UK's final-year medical students graduate early to join COVID-19 frontline

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Final-year medical students across the UK are joining the frontline of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic after being graduated early by their universities, reports The Guardian. The scale of the crisis and the pressure it is heaping on the already overstretched National Health Service (NHS) has prompted many medical schools to expedite graduation, in some cases cancelling exams.

Although the new graduates will not be able to perform the clinical duties of a doctor, they will be able to help in hospitals treating coronavirus patients. They cannot undertake a doctor’s duties until they are registered by the General Medical Council.

The report says among medical schools whose students have graduated early are Lancaster, Newcastle and University of East Anglia (UEA), and Oxford and Cambridge also have plans to do so, it is understood.

Julia Simons, the medical students lead for the Doctors’ Association UK, said students were eager to help out but there was a lack of clarity about what they could do, with no consistent guidance across the board. “We hope medical students will be able to volunteer as soon as possible,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Medical Schools Council said: “Graduation is being brought forward where possible for students who have met the required standards and outcomes for practice in order so that they might assist in the current crisis.”

Full report in The Guardian

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