Plans to develop a medical school in the North West have taken a major step forward.
Ulster University (UU) has confirmed that it has submitted an application for accreditation to the General Medical Council (GMC).
UU’s medical school proposal, which includes a graduate entry focus, is currently being considered by the Department of Health.
It aims to provide broader access to medical training and address the skills and workforce challenges faced by the health care sector, mainly in the North West, but also across Northern Ireland as a whole.
The GMC is the body responsible for accreditation and educational standards for all UK doctors through undergraduate and postgraduate education and training.
Professor Hugh McKenna, Dean of Medical School Development, Ulster University, said: “Doctors in Northern Ireland do an excellent job however we simply do not have enough of them. Working with our partners in the community, in health and social care trusts, in GP federations, and in the business sector, Ulster University’s medical school proposal will help to address a number of long term issues relating to population health and wellbeing.
“From the severe shortage of GPs and the challenges of recruiting senior medical staff for hospitals in the North West and beyond, to the rising costs of locums and overtime, access to a new medical school will raise both the
volume and quality of available knowledge and skills.
“The GMC accreditation process can be lengthy and it is important that we begin the process now so we can - subject to the necessary approvals along the way – be in a position to welcome the first intake of Ulster University medical students in 2019.”
Prof. McKenna said that, given UU’s longstanding history of world-leading medical and health related teaching and research in subjects including stratified medicine, allied health professionals, biomedical sciences and nursing, to pioneering new treatment options for conditions including diabetes, mental health, cancer and Alzheimer’s, a medical school was the natural next step for UU.
“The major infrastructure and quality teaching we put in place in the North West will help to address the many health and wellbeing issues facing patients and communities across Northern Ireland for decades to come,” he said.