The Three Counties Medical School at the University of Worcester will admit UK students this September, after a £1m grant from the Kildare Trust, a local charity, has been matched and more by £1.7m in grants from the NHS in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
The University, which has already committed nearly £20m for buildings, equipment, staff and curriculum to create the new medical school has welcomed this “marvellous support for UK students from Kildare and the local NHS”, with founding Dean Professor Sandra Nicholson adding: “The strength of the commitment from our local NHS partners to increasing the number of doctors and health professionals to serve the people is truly impressive.”
The funding, combined with student loans for the maximum £9,250 fee, will be just enough to meet the education costs of 20 UK students for the four years it will take to gain their medical degrees.
It costs a minimum of £40,000 each year to educate a postgraduate medical student – £160,000 in total using the nationally agreed NHS rates. Half this total is devoted to the costs of on-the-job training in hospital wards, GP surgeries and health settings while the other half pays for the education at medical schools across the country. Students also need grants and loans for maintenance whilst they are studying full time.
Applications for the 20 UK places on the University’s four-year graduate entry Medicine MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) will open shortly. In addition, the University will select a small number of fee-paying international students to ensure that the minimum initial cohort size of 24 is reached.
Robin Walker MP for Worcester, who has been leading lobbying efforts by local MPs for funded places for the Three Counties Medical School at the University of Worcester, said: “It is fantastic news that thanks to investment by our local health trusts the first cohort of medical students will include locally recruited future doctors. I have long campaigned for and strongly supported the case for Worcester to have its own medical school and I am convinced that today’s announcement is a major step forward not only for our NHS but for future generations of Worcestershire medics.
“The University’s success in nurse training has had a demonstrable benefit to our local health economy and I hope this can be replicated in the future by the new medical school.”
Simon Trickett, Chief Executive of NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The pandemic has highlighted what the NHS and our partners can achieve when we all work together. We want to continue to build on these successful partnerships to deliver the best possible care across our system.
“Working with the University of Worcester and NHS partners to help address our current workforce challenges is a key part of this. We’re delighted to be able to do something to address the shortage of local doctors and will continue to work with national bodies to encourage additional investment in local training places.”
Dr Andy Seymour, Clinical Chair, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “We are delighted to be supporting the new medical school at the University of Worcester as part of our commitment to attracting the best talent to our counties. It’s vital for the Three Counties’ future that together we develop a sustainable workforce to make sure that local people receive care of the very best quality delivered by a skilled, knowledgeable and fulfilled workforce. Not only is this good news for patients, it is also good news for those people keen on pursuing a medical career with the right training, education and learning support.”
Professor David Green CBE DL, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “The new medical school will help to address the pressing need for more doctors in this beautiful, but under-resourced part of Britain, where health inequality has been further intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are very grateful to our NHS partners and the Kildare Trust for providing this vital grant funding to allow UK students to be educated here in the Three Counties. It is well known that to attract GPs and hospital doctors to a deeply under resourced, under doctored region such as ours, that it is essential to have medical students undertake their training locally as this greatly increases the likelihood of staying in the region after qualification. Being a University Hospital educating medical students improves the attractiveness to the skilled medical professionals who are in such short supply nationally and internationally.”
Ian Smith, Chair of The Kildare Trust, added: “The benefactors of the Kildare Trust were very keen on supporting the educational opportunities of young people from this region. They were also passionate supporters of medical services locally and so providing this grant to support the initial cohorts of UK medical students fits squarely with the Trust’s aims. The Trustees are delighted to have been able to provide this grant along with a substantial sum as a permanent endowment for the Three Counties Medical Centre.”