Challenges Facing the NHS in 2021 – Medical School Interviews 

Challenges Facing the NHS in 2021 – Medical School Interviews 

challenges facing the nhs
challenges facing the nhs
Holly Melvin
4th Year Medical Student at The University of Manchester, Instagram account: @that.girl.medic
November 12, 2021

Medicine interviews and Challenges facing the NHS

This article aims to give you and your students an overview and ideas about the challenges the NHS is facing at the moment. Medical school interviews are a really important part of your application to study medicine at university, and challenges facing the NHS is a very topical issue, so they could very well come up. 

While some factors (such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic!) may spring to mind quite easily as a challenge, hopefully, this article will help make you aware of a few more. Also, give you some hints and tips about how to stay current and in the loop about emerging crises the NHS may be facing. As with all articles, I strongly advise having a pen and paper to hand, or a word document open, so that you can take notes on anything you find particularly useful, interesting or informative. This will be especially helpful for you to come back to when you’re preparing for your interviews in earnest.

Challenges facing the NHS in 2021

  • COVID-19
  • Staff shortages
  • Back-logs
  • Social care
  • Long-term effects of the pandemic

What are medical school interviews? Are they important?

Medical school interviews are an integral part of the medical school application process and the moment universities decide once and for all if you are a suitable candidate for them. As such, it’s really important that you do everything you can to prepare yourself well for the interview process so that you’re comfortable, confident and able to smash them in order to secure your place at medical school. 

Are challenges facing the NHS likely to come up as interview topics?

Challenges facing the NHS is always a favourite topic for medical school interviews. It helps to reveal which candidates like to keep up to date with current health affairs and health news, so which candidates are motivated and actively engaging in their future career field. 

As such, I do not expect this year to be any different, and in fact universities could potentially be even more likely to ask about challenges facing the NHS than before. This is because universities may be interested in hearing candidates’ opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing if they have developed insight into the broader problems created by the pandemic and the struggles facing the NHS in the future, outside of COVID-19. 

What are the main challenges facing the NHS right now?


Obviously, COVID-19 is still an issue facing the NHS. Ongoing worries about possible variants and how this could affect bed, ventilator and ICU (intensive care unit) capacity are all still very real concerns.

Staff shortages

Staff shortages are also a challenge facing the NHS, there are not enough nurses, doctors etc. Many at this point are very fatigued and exhausted from working on the front-line with such high demands for the past year. 

There are real concerns about the sustainability of this level of workload and burden on staff. Staff-wellbeing and health need urgent attention and input if the NHS continues functioning and providing safe health care to patients whilst retaining its staff.

Mock Interviews (MMI)

Online mock medical school Interviews with personal feedback

Ultimate MMI Course

Online medical interviews crash course for Medicine applicants


There is a substantial back-log the NHS is facing. One which may take years to fully clear. Due to the pandemic, many routine (non-urgent) surgeries and referrals were put on hold, and patients were also too scared/worried to visit their GP or attend hospital appointments. 

As such, there is now a huge waiting list for certain procedures or specialities in certain departments and NHS trusts, with patients potentially having to wait years for certain things. The NHS desperately needs to try and reduce/work its’ way through this back-log, but with the pandemic still ongoing, an ageing population and staff shortage, this may prove difficult.

Social care

Social care is also suffering a huge burden due to cuts in financial support spanning years prior to the pandemic, staff shortages again, and the huge long-lasting effect of the pandemic. 

Social services and health care (e.g. the NHS) are intrinsically linked. Good social care support and implementation can help reduce the rate of hospitalisation (keeping people out of hospital) and can help them return to the community sooner (reducing the problem of bed shortages and strain on the NHS). As such, much more money, time and interest need to go into fixing social care in the UK if we are to support and sustain the NHS by removing barriers to providing appropriate care.

Long-term effect of the pandemic

Another thing to consider is the potential long term effects of the pandemic. You may have already heard of the term “long covid”, and studies are already being published exploring this in-depth. 

There is a possibility that patients may suffer long term changes and damage to their bodies, which may require ongoing treatment, interventions and reviews with doctors. As we are not yet fully aware of the extent of this potential problem, it’s hard to predict how much this may affect the NHS, but given how many people have now contracted COVID-19, it could be large. 

challenges facing the nhs

How to stay up to date with challenges the NHS is facing?

As I mentioned before, this is a constantly evolving situation and question. Make sure to keep an eye out on our website for any articles on current medical issues, interview tips and scientific articles. Also, make sure to timetable aside even just 5 minutes a day to quickly scan through the health news for the day. 

This way, you can read about stories as they emerge and have a better understanding of their background and timeline if you choose to talk about them at the interview, making you look more knowledgeable and interested. My favourite suggestion is always the BBC health news, as I found it accessible and easy to use. However, you need to find what works for you!


In conclusion, the challenges facing the NHS is a topic that could easily come up during your medical school interviews. As such, it’s important you stay up-to-date with the health news. This article provides some useful ideas, however, you need to make sure you’re constantly updating your own knowledge and developing your ideas too.


You may also want to read

Medical School News – 29th March 2022

Medical School News – 29th March 2022

What is the article about? Choosing a medical school can be a very daunting process for aspiring medics, and more often than not they turn to you, their teachers and advisors, for advice. This bi-weekly series of medical school news articles will hopefully highlight...

read more
Medical School News – 29th March 2022

Medical School News – 15th March 2022

What is the article about? Choosing a medical school can be a very daunting process for aspiring medics, and more often than not they turn to you, their teachers and advisors, for advice. This bi-weekly series of medical school news articles will hopefully highlight...

read more
Oxford and Cambridge BMAT Score Analysis

Oxford and Cambridge BMAT Score Analysis

What are competitive BMAT scores for applying to Oxbridge Universities? Both Oxford and Cambridge claim that there is no cut-off for their BMAT score, however Oxford are explicit in stating that applicants should be aiming for an average score of 6. In 2021, we found...

read more

Latest Admissions Advice, Guidance and Tips

Also receive 10% off our courses