Medical School a '˜huge driver for economy'

The Western Trust has met with Ulster University representatives to help progress plans for a Medical School at Magee.

Friday, 2nd December 2016, 1:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:41 pm
There is a concerted effort going on to try to secure a Medical School at Magee.

Chairman of the Western Health and Social Care Trust Board Niall Birthistle said a meeting has taken place with Professor Hugh McKenna, Ulster University Dean of Medical School Development, to discuss the plans for the graduate entry medical facility.

Speaking at the Trust Board’s December meeting, Mr Birthistle said the project had the potential to be a “huge economic driver for the North West”.

“This would be a very important development for the Western Trust and also for Ulster University, for the whole City of Derry and the North West.

Niall Birthistle, chairman, Western Trust. (Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography)

“I think it would be part of the answer to our quest for more clinicians to settle in the North West.”

He added: “I know Ulster University is pursuing this with everything they can, with our support.”

Health Minister Simon Hamilton met with Ulster University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Nixon back in March to discuss the University’s proposal to establish the new school in the North West.

The Minister said at the time that the proposal “is in the very early stages of development” adding that he as asked senior officials within his department to engage with discussions to explore the potential for realising the project. “It is proven that medical graduates are more likely to seek employment close to where they have been educated,” he said.

Niall Birthistle, chairman, Western Trust. (Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography)

Local MLAs meanwhile have, over recent days, said that investment in a medical school at Magee will result in an £8 to the £1 boost for the local economy, as they backed a Mark H. Durkan’s Private Members’ Motion at Stormont on Tuesday calling on the Executive to work towards the establishment of a medical school in the North West.

Mr Durkan said the expansion of the university is “key to the economic regeneration of the North West”.