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Friday 4 June 2021

UCLan medics help fill West Cumbria skills gap

Medical students playing major role in fulfilling region’s rural and remote healthcare strategy.

The Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery Degree placement at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Westlakes Campus and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven is now oversubscribed as more students are choosing to study in West Cumbria for part of their course.

In July 2020, the first 27 students from the Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme graduated with all 27 planning to live and work in the UK. This year, all 32 third year places have been allocated to students training to be doctors, with a reserve list for those students hoping to join the placement opportunity in the region. Students on the course spend a year on placement at West Cumberland Hospital as well as local GP clinics.

This means the number of students choosing West Cumbria is rising year-on-year to complete part of their training. The feedback from students about studying in West Cumbria is very positive.

Taba Khan, MBBS student at UCLan, said: “I found West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) to be a warm and welcoming place. This extends to staff and patients alike. Being a comparatively smaller hospital, I felt the staff made us feel part of the team and provided us with hands-on learning and much more practice opportunities of basic skills than would have been possible at a bigger hospital.”

"We want to provide the doctors and health care workers of tomorrow with an experience of working in a remote and rural environment so that they are more comfortable considering this as a career option for the future. The future is looking very promising."

UCLan’s Professor Cathy Jackson, Executive Dean, Faculty of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences.

Taba added she would encourage others to also take up their training here should they get the chance, adding: “Working in West Cumbria has been an enriching experience overall and I am better for having had this experience. There’s a lot of scope for growth, development and changes in this region and it provides many unique opportunities for us as future medical health practitioners to be a part of this growth.”

Dr Colin Michie, Deputy Head, School of Medicine, UCLan added: “Students value all aspects of their training at our Westlakes campus and have provided accolades for their academic teaching and coaching, as well as their clinical experiences.”

Professor Sam Dearman, Director of Medical Education at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “It’s such great news for the Trust and for the people of West Cumbria that this course is available to MBBS students. We are a centre of excellence in undergraduate medical education and providers of rural and remote healthcare. It makes such a difference that these students get to experience the area first hand and the unique opportunities that are available to them here in Cumbria.”

UCLan’s Professor Cathy Jackson, Executive Dean, Faculty of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences, explained the important role the community has to play in the success of the programme: “I am delighted to see that our vision for the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine is coming to fruition. We want to provide the doctors and health care workers of tomorrow with an experience of working in a remote and rural environment so that they are more comfortable considering this as a career option for the future. The future is looking very promising.”

The UCLan MBBS programme builds upon UCLan’s heritage in dentistry, nursing, optometry and pharmacy courses, representing a crucial part of the overall solution to fill the urgent skills gap that currently exists in areas such as East Lancashire and West Cumbria.

The National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine (NCRRM) combines academic facilities at UCLan’s Westlakes Campus and neighbouring clinical facilities at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, providing a unique opportunity to deliver innovative improvements in remote and rural healthcare and new integrated models of care to the local area.