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New West Cumbria roles for two locals

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Westlakes Campus

Valerie Smart and Steve Minto have been appointed to positions at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has appointed two local people to project roles at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre (WCMEC).

Valerie Smart will bring her many years of educational experience to the position of project manager while Steve Minto will provide administrative support. Both will be based at the University’s Westlakes Campus.

She will implement the development plans for the Centre and will work with stakeholders to ensure a variety of projects are developed successfully within the timescales. These include developing student recruitment to our latest programme, the BSc Medical Sciences Foundation for international students, which is due to start in January 2017 and recruiting teaching staff, from science and languages backgrounds, to teach on the programme. She will also be supporting the physician associates students, recently on placement at the West Cumberland Hospital.

Valerie, who lives in nearby St Bees, said: “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to be involved in such an exciting new venture. Combining the superb academic facilities at the Westlakes Campus with the new West Cumberland Hospital will enable local education and training for West Cumbria’s clinical workforce.”

Having worked in education for most of my career, it will be a real privilege to be part of the investment UCLan is making in West Cumbria.

Valerie completed her degree and doctorate in Glasgow before embarking on a post-doctoral research fellowship in the United States of America. This was followed by several years in research positions in the pharmaceutical industry.

After a career break to raise her children she was involved in a local genetics research project at the Westlakes Research Institute. Valerie spent the past 12 years teaching science at a local independent school and several years as Head of Biology. She was also the students’ success coordinator at Lakes College.

She added: “Having worked in education for most of my career, it will be a real privilege to be part of the investment UCLan is making in West Cumbria. I have lived locally for almost 20 years and I am passionate about our local services, so being involved from the outset with a venture which will bring in new expertise and initiatives to the area is a wonderful opportunity.”

Steve, originally from Sunderland but now lives in Penrith, has worked in higher education and knowledge transfer for most of his working life. He has been involved with business, creative industries and health sectors while his most recent employer was Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

His role will be to support Valerie and Professor Cathy Jackson, Head of School of Medicine, in the development of the offering at WCMEC as well as supporting the resident professors, Professor of Primary Care Dr John Howarth and gastroenterology consultant Professor Janusz Jankowski.

The keen walker and guitar player said: “I’m really excited to be joining the team at WCMEC. The facility is first-class and I am looking forward to playing my part in its development and future success.”


Valerie Smart

I’m really excited to be joining the team at WCMEC. The facility is first-class and I am looking forward to playing my part in its development and future success.

The WCMEC is a collaboration between the University, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. It will offer opportunities to deliver innovative improvements in remote and rural healthcare and develop new integrated models of care for the local area. It will also provide a local facility to train West Cumbria’s clinical workforce and attract the best global students to the area to benefit patient care.

Professor Jackson added: “We are delighted to have Val and Steve join the growing team at WCMEC. They are vital to helping us to prepare for the growing number of students we expect to have at the site over the coming year. This is an exciting time for the project, with staff and students now on campus in West Cumberland. As the WCMEC initiative continues to develop, we look forward to seeing the benefits not only to local employment, but also the health economy in the region.”

Rachel Atkinson | 14 September 2016