At long last! Derry medical school finally gets go-ahead
Plans for a new medical school in Derry have, at long last, been given the go-ahead.
The Stormont Executive has today signed off on the long-awaited multi-million project which will see a graduate entry medical college established at Ulster University’s Magee campus in the city.
The green light for the “game changing” project could now see the new school opening to in the region of 70 students in September 2021.
The expansion of the university in the city and the opening of a medical training facility in the NW have long been regarded as a catalyst for economic growth in the region.
Plans to open such a school at UU’s Derry campus have been repeatedly delayed.
However, the project was injected with new life recently when the Stormont Executive announced match funding for the Derry and Strabane City Deal - a £105m government funding package to boost the local economy.
Some of this funding - which now totals £210m. - will be allocated to the medical school.
Earlier this month, NI’s joint leaders, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill, announced that they were taking personal control of the initiative.
Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan has hailed the move as a “major boost” for both UU and Derry.
She added: “The benefits of this investment to the economic regeneration of Derry and to the North West cannot be overstated. I warmly welcome the decision which adds quite significantly to the City Deals and Inclusive Future Fund commitment announced in recent weeks, too.
“There is widespread support for the medical school and the expansion of Magee. There is a united voice in the city at political and community levels and today’s announcement represents a huge step forward towards the goal of delivering the medical school at Magee in the fastest time possible.
“Sinn Féin is committed to working with Ulster University, local business leaders and all other parties to see the project delivered without any delay.”
Plans for a medical school in Derry were first mooted in the mid-2000s, and submitted to the General Medical Council in 2016. Many believe it could help address a shortfall in doctors in NI and kick-start the region’s economy.
The only medical school in Northern Ireland at present is at Queen’s University in Belfast. About 270 doctors graduate each year.
Recently, a Department of Health (DoH) commissioned review warned that Northern Ireland needs at least 100 more medical students a year to meet the demand for doctors.
The shortage of doctors is particularly acute in the north west. The Western Health and Social Care Trust - which serves a region including Derry - spent £27m on temporary doctors, health professionals, nurses and admin staff during the 2017/18 financial year.
Health professionals say doctors are more likely to stay and work in the areas in which they trained.