Worcester’s MP Robin Walker today led a delegation of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire MPs to meet with the Health Minister Will Quince and press the case for funded places to be delivered at the three counties medical school in Worcester at the earliest possible opportunity. Local MPs are united in supporting the case for the Government to provide funding for aspiring doctors to study at the medical school which is due to open its doors this September. The meeting was attended by Sir Bill Wiggin from Herefordshire, Richard Graham and Sir Geoffrey Clifton Brown from Gloucestershire and Robin, Harriett Baldwin, Rachel Maclean and Nigel Huddleston from Worcestershire as well as officials from the DHSC and Minister Will Quince.
They pointed out to Health Ministers the strong track record of the University of Worcester for training health professionals including midwives and nurses and the fact that it has seen the biggest expansion of training places for these roles anywhere in the country. They pointed out that the physical infrastructure for the medical school has already received significant public funding through both the Worcester Towns Deal and via the Office for Students but that the lack of an allocation of funded places means that the medical school has had to draw on local NHS resources to support students in their first year.
As things stand just 20 domestic students will be able to start on the graduate entry medical course in the first year of the school alongside around 28 international students but £1.7 million of the funding for this has been provided from local NHS commissioners in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and Worcestershire, whereas in other medical schools up and down the country it would be provided by Health Education England. They also pointed to the strong demand amongst local health trusts for placements for junior doctors and the fact that there are two placement available for every place at the medical school, so the opportunities to scale it up are substantial.
The MPs pointed out that every Integrated Care aboard (ICB) and every health trust in the three counties support the provision of funded places at the first available opportunity and Robin read out statements of support from the Worcestershire Acute Trust, the Herefordshire and Worcestershire ICB and Doctors at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital including breast surgeon Stephen Thrush.
In responding the Minister recognised that there was a very strong case for places to be funded as soon as possible and pointed to the likelihood of an NHS long term workforce plan being published over the coming months. Local MPs pressed him to ensure that it includes a clear commitment to funded places at the 3 new medical schools which have been approved since places were last allocated and to recognise the very real need that exists to recruit and train more doctors locally.
Speaking about the meeting, Robin said:
“Getting funded places for doctors to train locally will be a win for retention and recruitment of much needed doctors in our area. There are major long term challenges across the three counties which this medical school will help to meet and I am proud that the Government has already delivered much needed investment in its facilities. The true benefit of that investment will only be realised once the funded places are confirmed.
“It is a great credit to our local NHS that every trust is supportive of this and that they have put real money into making sure the first cohort of students at the medical school can include local students but this money should not be having to come from local NHS resources. I will keep pressing the case for funded places and I am hopeful that the hotly anticipated long term workforce plan, something the Chancellor pressed for as chair of the health select committee, will deliver them.”