The Canterbury Christ Church University campus in Broadstairs could be used as part of a new ‘medical school’ announced for East Kent today (March 20).
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that five new medical schools will open their doors to student doctors starting this September, as part of the biggest ever expansion to the NHS medical workforce.
The schools have been chosen as part of a rigorous bidding process to help place more medical students in areas which traditionally struggle to attract doctors, particularly rural and coastal areas.
One of the successful bids came from the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University for a Kent & Medway Medical School.
By 2020 there will be an extra 1,500 students doctors in training across the five facilities. Some 630 will take up places on medical courses this September, bringing the total intake for 2018/19 to 6,701 – the highest on record. The intake at the new Canterbury school will begin in 2020 and is expected to take 100 students annually.
The exact location of the facility will be consulted on with key stakeholders. Both universities will invest a combined total of £6 million for initial start up costs. Funding is then expected from the government and regional partners.
The university will gradually relocate courses to Canterbury over the next few years as it carries out its 10 to 15-year Estate Master Plan in which it plans to invest £150million in new buildings and facilities in the city.
This includes a £11million new arts building on its Canterbury campus, due to open in September, and the transformation of the former prison to create facilities for new courses, research and enterprise in engineering and technology.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says this means the Thanet site will then be available for use by trainee medical staff from the new Canterbury medical school.
He said: “This will create the largest expansion of the NHS workforce in history and I am delighted that our collective efforts to bring one of the five new medical schools to East Kent has proved successful.
“Christ Church vacating the Thanet campus will create the opportunity to locate part of the school in Thanet, using the training expertise available at the QEQM hospital to give students the practical experience that they will need.
“ I would hope and expect that each of East Kent`s three major hospitals will benefit from the retention of medical staff that in turn will ease the pressure on recruitment and enhance the medical care available locally to my constituents.
“I would like to pay particular tribute to our former colleague, Julian Brazier who, as the Member of Parliament for Canterbury, was staunch in support of the creation of a university-based medical school.
“Together, East Kent`s MPs have forcefully made the case for this new facility which will have the potential to attract the brightest and best of some of tomorrow`s medics to the area.
The courses will involve trainee doctors working across all the sites in Kent and Medway and working in primary care (such as GP practices) from the beginning of their training. Kent has a particular shortage of family doctors.
Glenn Douglas, chief executive of the Kent and Medway partnership of NHS and social care leaders, said: ‘We have been clear that Kent and Medway have a big problem staffing NHS posts, and this is causing significant strain on health services. We have been fully in support of the bid from our two universities for a medical school.
“Having a medical school locally is known to provide an essential boost to recruitment and retention and we know this is vital, particularly in our coastal areas. We want people in Kent and Medway to seriously consider health and care as a career, and the universities will now be offering an extensive range of courses – including medicine – within our region.’
Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Canterbury Christ Church University, and Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent said: “Our ambition is to develop a school that will become a beacon for first class medical education and research, and the first choice for all those aspiring to achieve excellence in person-centred medical care in the UK. We remain confident that, by providing distinctive, socially diverse and insightful graduates, the Kent and Medway Medical School will enable, influence and drive changes within the clinical workforce to deliver high quality healthcare across the region.”
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay added: “A medical school for Kent is fantastic news and a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to addressing regional imbalance across England.
“This educational facility will be key to the training and retention of 100 new doctors and will be of massive benefit to both Kent students and patients alike.”
The bid for a medical school was submitted by Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent in November. It was supported by Brighton and Sussex Medical School, which will act as the ‘parent institution’ – one of the requirements of the General Medical Council (GMC) as a new medical school is established.