Secretary of State for Defence applauds UCLan’s plans to grow medical talent in West Cumbria
Ex-military personnel could bolster region’s skills gap through University’s National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine
The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) West Lakes Campus has welcomed the Secretary of State for Defence to highlight its plans to attract ex-military personnel to West Cumbria to retrain in medical roles.
The Rt Hon Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson CBE MP, joined Copeland MP Trudy Harrison for his visit to the campus at West Lakes Science and Technology Park, where plans to recruit those from the forces with appropriate experience to come and train in the Cumbrian region were discussed.
Through its National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine (NCRRM), UCLan is aiming to recruit ex-service personnel into a number of academic subject areas related to medicine.
Believed to be a first in the UK, UCLan is looking at qualifications gained in the forces to meet the entry criteria for admission to its programs on a case by case basis. It is hoped this approach will help to address the healthcare skills shortage West Cumbria is currently facing by encouraging the staff who train in remote and rural areas to seek work in the region when qualified.
Courses available for ex-forces personnel through the NCRRM are a two-year MSc Physician Associate Practice course to work as a as a physician associate in the NHS, a foundation degree in medical sciences that will act as a gateway for those who need additional qualifications to apply and continuing professional development courses to develop skills in specific areas of rural medicine.
"I can’t commend UCLan highly enough, they are tackling the national challenge of recruitment and developing ways in which we can up-skill members of the Armed Forces to work in our local hospitals and I will do all that I can to help."
Professor Cathy Jackson, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences at UCLan, said: “We’re very proud of this initiative, which provides an innovative approach to recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals in remote and rural areas of Cumbria.
“People who have worked in the services have qualities that the University is looking for and which make them particularly suitable for practice in the areas in question. They are conscientious, professional and team workers in addition to thinking on their feet in areas where help might not be immediately available and in sometimes very stressful situations - all of which are qualities needed for remote and rural practice.”
Copeland MP Trudy Harrison said: “Both the Secretary of State and I were inspired by the growing medical training centre and now the incredible achievement of becoming the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine.
“I can’t commend UCLan highly enough, they are tackling the national challenge of recruitment and developing ways in which we can up-skill members of the Armed Forces to work in our local hospitals and I will do all that I can to help.”
"Both the Secretary of State and I were inspired by the growing medical training centre and now the incredible achievement of becoming the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine."
UCLan has also been in discussion with local councils who are also hoping to attract ex-service personnel to the area by offering free or subsidised accommodation and preferential choice of schooling as a part of the incentive package.
Dr Jackson added: “In the short and medium term the University would hope to recruit ex-services personnel and others with appropriate experience to come and work in the region in the capacity that they have already been trained for, whilst at the same time training to become a doctor.
“These students, already mature by definition, will hopefully and especially with the support of the local councils, put down roots in the area and on completion of their studies be looking for employment in the area, providing the sustainable workforce of the future.”
Developed in partnership with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, NCRRM facilitates local medical education, training locals to work in the regional health service as well as attracting new health professionals to the area. UCLan physician associate students are employed in the region and third year medical students are currently undertaking clinical placements in GP and hospital clinics.
For more information, visit the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine website or call 01946 517200. To view images from the Secretary of State’s visit, see the UCLan Flickr gallery.