By looking so carefully at your options and preferences, you're already taking control of events, not just letting life happen - congratulations!
Doing an access course before you start degree studies is an excellent idea. At this stage, it's really important to build up your study skills and self-confidence, in addition to learning about your subject.
Do you mostly want to take a degree that'll lead to a job you want to do? Or are you so strongly committed to the idea of doing medicine and becoming a doctor that nothing else will suit? I'm asking because I can see lots of obstacles in front of you if you only want to do medicine. I know you'd find it much easier to get a place if you opted for a different degree - and it might well lead to a career you'd enjoy.
Getting into medicine is hideously difficult, even for the best qualified students who've had the time and energy to do voluntary work relevant to medicine and to "shadow" doctors working in hospitals and primary care. Some medical schools accept students who've successfully completed suitable access courses but a number don't.
There are few universities and colleges providing suitable access courses - do you live near one of these (eg in Bradford, London or Manchester)?
Have you any recent experience of study, especially in scientific subjects? Equipping access course students with enough scientific background for medical school means the access courses are intense; your self-confidence might take a knock if you couldn't keep up the pace. You might not be accepted for some access courses without either appropriate GCSEs / alternative qualifications (eg a level two or level three National Vocational Qualification) or suitable work experience.
I'm hoping you'll say "I still want to take a degree and get a job I'd thoroughly enjoy - but I'm willing to look more widely at my options". If that's your feeling, then, I'd suggest you start your quest by thinking about careers that attract you. As you'll be a graduate some time in the next three - four years (!!), go onto the graduates website www.prospects.ac.uk
, work through their career guidance program and investigate the job profiles that most attract you. The career data provides information about the suitability of different careers for late starters, the availability of flexible working, etc. Good luck!
Linda Whittern is Director of Careers Partnership (UK), a careers consultancy for people at all stages of their careers.
Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.