UCLan trainees arrive at West Cumberland Hospital as University partnership moves forward

16 June 2016

Clinical placements underway

The partnership which has led to the creation of the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre has welcomed students to West Cumberland Hospital for the first time.

Three trainee physician associates from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have started their clinical placements, rotating between emergency care, medical wards, stroke and elderly care under the mentorship of consultants at West Cumberland Hospital.

The physician associate is an innovative new health professional role which, whilst not a doctor, works to the medical model and delivers care and treatment within a hospital setting or in GP practices. The physician associates at West Cumberland Hospital will work closely with consultants and nurse practitioners within their role.

The West Cumberland Medical Education Centre (WCMEC) is located between Westlakes Science Park and West Cumberland Hospital and is a collaboration between North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, UCLan, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. WCMEC aims to combine academic facilities at UCLan’s Westlakes Campus with clinical facilities at West Cumberland Hospital which are located just a mile apart.

"Our partnership with UCLan will bring in new expertise for the benefit of patient care, as well as helping to ‘grow our own’ medical talent."

The centre, coupled with the opening of the new West Cumberland Hospital in October 2015, will help to shape the emerging vision from the work of the West, North & East Cumbria Success Regime. The vision is to develop an international centre of excellence for integrated health and care provision in rural, remote and dispersed communities which means developing more innovative roles within the workforce including physician associates.

Peter Driscoll, academic lead for the physician associate programme at UCLan, said: “This initiative represents an important step in the development of resilient communities and becoming a national lead in this type of medical practice.”

Geoff Jolliffe, interim clinical chair for NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The development of this type of training in West Cumbria is vitally important for the county’s health services and we’re delighted that this partnership with UCLan is well underway.”

Dr Derek Thomson, medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted to welcome the trainee physician associates to West Cumberland Hospital as part of their clinical placement."

“The arrival of the trainees marks the start of something very exciting for both the Trust and West Cumbria. Our difficulties with medical recruitment have been longstanding and we have had to start thinking ‘out of the box’ when planning our future workforce models. Our partnership with UCLan will bring in new expertise for the benefit of patient care, as well as helping to ‘grow our own’ medical talent.”

The arrival of the physician associates is the beginning of many exciting developments at WCMEC this year including the appointment of two professors of medicine and a cardio-respiratory summer school set to be held in July.