Medical students in Sussex have qualified early as doctors to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.

The students from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School completed their practical assessments just before the lockdown and took their final exam online.

The new doctors will be placed in hospitals to support more senior medics who are treating victims of the pandemic.

The students spent five years honing their skills with patients in the controlled conditions of classrooms and simulated sessions.

For most of us this really has just been an opportunity to go and help our community and our patients. It's what we've spent tens of thousands of pounds, the last half a decade of our lives, training for and I think it would have felt like a waste to not be in a hospital, helping out in any way that we know how.

Dr ABIGAIL JAMIESON, Newly-qualified doctor

Thirty six examiners at the Royal Sussex County Hospital assessed the students' clinical skills over one weekend in March, just before the stringent measures on social distancing were introduced.

One week later, they took their final knowledge exam online, which is the first time this has ever been done.

The medical school is jointly run by the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.

Looking back to my time, I think I would have been completely confused by changes like this. I have to say, the students were absolutely fantastic. They've shown tremendous flexibility, great resilience and patience in bearing with us while we change the format and design of their exams in a way which is unprecedented.

Professor MALCOLM REED, Dean, Brighton & Sussex Medical School
Credit: Brighton and Sussex Medical School

The new doctors will be deployed in roles appropriate to their skill set, supporting the delivery of frontline services.

The newly-qualified doctors could never have imagined their clinical careers would begin in the midst of a global pandemic.

They are due to take up their roles next month.