Worcester MP offers full backing to medical school bid

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, says a proposal to open a medical school in the city could help recruitment of clinicians and encourage more doctors to stay working in the area long-term. Robin was speaking to local radio early this morning, following the announcement that a new generation of doctors could soon be trained in Worcester, if plans by the City’s university to develop a medical school go ahead.

The University’s Vice Chancellor David Green outlined how up to more than 70 places per year for trainee doctors could be created under proposals discussed at a meeting last week between the University and nearly 100 local doctors and consultants last week. The plan would be to boost recruitment and retention and serve the West Mercia region as a whole, as the closest existing medical schools are currently located in Bristol and Birmingham. The aim would be not to replace the existing relationships with these but to add to them so that further places in Worcester would help to develop and keep top medical talent in the local area.

This news is topical given how the Department of Health are keen to increase training places for medical students and measures are already in place to achieve this. Last year, the Department of Health announced that the number of medical training places available to students each year will be expanded to ensure the NHS has enough doctors to continue to provide safe, compassionate care in the future. The Department wrote to Universities including Worcester to invite them to consider creating new medical school provision.

From September 2018, the government will fund up to 1,500 additional student places through medical school each year. Students will be able to apply for the extra places from early 2017 in order to take them up from the academic year 2018/19. The Health Secretary also pledged to reform the current cap on the total number of places that medical schools can offer, which is set at just over 6,000 a year. Currently, universities can only offer places to half of those who apply to study medicine, but this new measure will allow all domestic students with the academic grades, skills and capability to train as a doctor to have the chance to do so.

The Department of Health invited the University of Worcester to apply for the bid in a letter last year and should it be successful, places could be open for the early 2020s. Worcester has a long history of medical leadership and innovation with the BMA having been founded in the city by Charles Hastings and the University has already established an excellent reputation for its training of midwives and nurses.

Robin said:

“I am delighted to see that as part of our Government’s drive to train more doctors across England, a proposal is being prepared for Worcester to be home to a medical school. I am offering my full support for this bid and I am delighted by the prospect of our city training the next generation of local doctors. Given the recent challenges at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, a training partnership could be part of the solution in recruiting and retaining doctors locally not only in the hospital itself but also in our wider NHS including GPs and in mental health. It could increase our pipeline of junior doctors and trainees whilst also giving senior doctors and consultants greater job satisfaction in being able to help shape the workforce of the future. So far local people have been very encouraging about this prospect, and I will work with local trusts and the community to secure it – a new medical school would be a win for our local NHS.”

Notes to Editors:

To listen to Robin’s interview (1:13): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04p06qf#play

To read more details on the University of Worcester’s announcement: http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/university-in-early-discussions-on-the-development-of-a-medical-school.html