A Sinn Féin delegation has met with the Head of the Civil Service to seek assurances that the project to deliver a medical school at Magee University remains on track.
Speaking after the meeting with David Sterling, Elisha McCallion MP said the delivery of a medical school at Magee University remained an integral part of a strategy to develop the north west region.
“We have continually engaged with university staff and key stakeholders to ensure their commitment to completing this ground-breaking project,” she said. “I am glad they remain committed to delivery of this project.
“I outlined the economic benefits of this project and the impact it will have in terms of developing the north west region with the medical centre as a key infra structural development, whilst also establishing Magee as a centre of excellence.
“There has been major investment in Altnagelvin over the past few years with the opening of the North West Cancer Centre as a cross-border service. This investment has made Altnagelvin an ideal teaching location.
“Sinn Féin will continue to engage and lobby with stakeholders to seek firm assurances that the medical school project remains on course to take its first intake of students in September 2019.”
The Department of Health has previously confirmed that its officials received an outline business case from Ulster University in October last year.
A Departmental spokesperson said: “This will be considered in the context of an ongoing review of regional medical training place needs, on which both of the local universities are represented, which is due to report in June 2018.”
Ulster University meanwhile has previously said that in the face of an unprecedented medical workforce shortage, particularly in the North West, Ulster University’s Graduate Entry Medical School (NIGEMS) would directly help address the capacity of the healthcare system to meet the patient care needs.
The university’s business plan has identified a number of potential, as yet undisclosed, sites in the North West for locating such a major facility.
The proposal received cross-party support in November 2016, weeks before the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive.
The University’s stated aim is to be in a position to welcome the first intake of 60 medical students in the Autumn of 2019, increasing to 120 per year students over a five-year period.