Health minister meets UU on Derry medical school plan

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Moves to locate a medical school in Derry have taken a significant step forward.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton has met with Ulster University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Nixon, to discuss UU’s proposal to establish a Graduate Entry Medical (GEM) school in the North West.

The Minister said: “It is important that we look innovatively at all options which seek to tackle the issues affecting our health sector. Medical locum costs within the Western Trust have trebled in the last three financial years and are projected at £12.5 million for 2015/16. This is unsustainable.

“This proposal is in the very early stages of development and I have asked senior officials within my department to engage with discussions to explore the potential of a medical school in the North West.

“It is proven that medical graduates are more likely to seek employment close to where they have been educated. Such a school could provide a platform to attract and retain skilled people into the medical profession, especially those from the North West area. That is good for the economy, skills development and will improve the overall health and well-being of citizens.”

The Minister added that both UU and the Western Trust were recognised as “centres of excellence” within education and research.

“The Ulster University already has Schools of Biomedical Sciences, Health Sciences (including Allied Health Professions), Nursing, Psychology and Pharmacy, and research in Biomedical Science is ranked within the top three out of 94 universities in terms of research power,” he said.

“Further development of this proposal, which sees GP training and prioritising the quality and safety of patient care are at its core, is underway. I look forward to seeing the outcome of that work in due course.”