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National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine

Patients deserve the best care regardless of their location. Here at the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine (NCRRM), we provide education and training to equip professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide gold standard care in remote and rural locations locally, nationally and internationally.

We are always looking for new ways to deliver medical education alongside traditional pathways. We operate on the firm belief that medics and allied healthcare professionals should be able to attain skills and qualifications to ensure they feel confident and secure when looking after their patients’ needs, wherever they are in the world. Every contact with a patient should always enhance the outcome.

Our location

Located in West Cumbria, the Centre provides students with a unique set of opportunities, exposing them to the challenges of remote and rural medicine.


Discover our postgraduate medicine courses that run at our Preston campus

Digital Health Institute

Our Digital Health Institute aims to bring the best of what is going on locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to remote and rural healthcare systems. This includes developments in areas such as telehealth, telecare, remote monitoring, big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

In order to harness the power of this technology, the Digital Health Institute services as a hub, connecting people, supporting initiatives and developing networks of interest. It provides a test bed site for new innovative ways of delivering healthcare and supporting healthy living. It also provides a bridge between leading edge research and the practical application of technology. Through the links we are building to sources of ideas and expertise globally, we assist health providers in rural settings in having access to knowledge and best-practice. This benefits healthcare providers and patients in remote and rural areas.

We also recognise that implementing technology is as much a social and cultural issue as it is a technical one. As such, we work with partners to help develop the leadership awareness, capacity and capability across all layers of the healthcare system. Thus, we aim to help the healthcare system raise the digital skills of its existing and potential employees to create a digital health ready workforce that is equipped to work in the digitally literate healthcare organisations of the 21st Century.

Our team

Cathy initially joined UCLan to set up the new medical school at the university. The medical school successfully achieved full accreditation with the GMC in 2019 and graduated it's first cohort of doctors in the same year. Cathy, as well as being head of the School of Medicine became Executive Dean for the Faculty in 2017. The medical school now being fully accredited, Cathy has passed on the role of Head but remains Executive Dean responsible for the medical school, dental school, pharmacy, optometry and biomedical sciences at all campus sites in the UK and overseas.

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Director, National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine

Prof Stuart Maitland-Knibb has worked extensively in urgent care, emergency medicine and pre-hospital emergency medicine. After working in the military for 12 years, as clinical director he created an out of hospital remote centre to deliver urgent and emergency care to be delivered solely by primary carers. This has developed in to a highly successful unit delivering class-leading care in the community.

He has worked extensively on a Helicopter Emergency Medicine Services (HEMS) platform delivering pre-hospital emergency medicine in rural areas to critically ill or injured patients. He works for a global remote telemedicine company delivering urgent primary care and retrieval medicine support.

Stuart is also is a member of the UK International Search and Rescue Team which is deployed as the UK government emergency rescue to natural disasters where casualties are believed to be trapped.

Manager of National Centre For Remote and Rural Medicine

Dr Valerie Smart's background includes a career in biochemistry and genetics research as well as being involved in education at both secondary and tertiary levels. She has been involved in the developed of the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine since its inception and is responsible for ensuring the activities of the School of Medicine are resourced effectively and for the day to day activities on campus.

Dawyn Sawyer, PA-C, graduated from the University of Iowa Physician Assistant programme with a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies in 1992. She worked firstly at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Paediatric GI for 13 years where she saw children for a variety of health care needs and assisted with sedating children who required endoscopic evaluations. For the past 10 years, Dawyn has worked in remote Alaska, teaching Community Health Aides emergency care, acute and chronic care, as well as preventative care of Native Alaskans.

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Campus Day Facilitator – MBBS Programme

Dr Jo Grove is a native Cumbrian, who attended Medical School in Newcastle and trained in General Surgery, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons aged 27. Jo changed to General Practice to live and work in the Lake District and is a GP in Keswick. Jo is also a Medical Officer for Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team and his hobbies include mountaineering, triathlon, sailing, cycling and fell-running with Paddy, his Cocker Spaniel.

Module Lead for Health and Society – MBBS Programme

Dr Caroline Bateman is a GP who trained in West Cumbria having previously completed a remote and rural option at medical school in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Caroline has an interest in emergency medicine and medical education, and is currently involved in setting up a new acute primary care service. Caroline joined UCLan in January 2019 as Module Lead for Health and Society on the MBBS programme at the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine at the Westlakes Campus.

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Phase 2 Tutor – MBBS Programme

Dr Alison Overend joined UCLan in August 2018, as Phase 2 Tutor. Alison is a GP who has been a partner at Maryport on the West Coast of Cumbria for 25 years. She has been involved in undergraduate medicine in general practice for 24 years. She has also worked in A&E, medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology in the Western Isles of Scotland. She was a trainer in reproductive health for 16 years and also has an interest in therapeutics and in substance misuse. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

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Clinical Skills Work Based Facilitator – MBBS Programme

Joanne Pickering qualified as a nurse in 1988 from West Cumberland School Nursing, she has worked for North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust since then. Starting her career as a surgical nurse, then as Sister for the Surgical gastroenterology ward, and then to the Emergency Assessment Unit when it amalgamated Medical and Surgical emergencies into a single assessment unit.

At the start of the ‘Hospital at Night’ campaign Joanne moved into a site coordinator role and helped embed the Hospital at Night team roles. This led to the opportunity to develop her management skills and move into a Matron role which she has been in since 2006. In this time Joanne has worked in Medicine, Cardiology and since 2008 Emergency care. During this role Joanne worked with Dr Olu Orugun to commence the Advanced Practitioner unit and role within the hospital and latterly the development of the composite workforce, an innovative mix of Advanced Practitioner from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, Physicians Associate as well as Medical staff.

In 2018 Joanne embarked on the next learning phase of her career and commenced with UCLan as a Clinical Work Based Skills Facilitator with the first cohort of medical students at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre.

Lecturer in Mathematics – Medical Sciences (Foundation Entry) Programme

James Kuechel has taught mathematics at FE/HE level for the last ten years; on the back of his undergraduate studies in aeronautical engineering. In the last five years James has worked partly as an educational consultant in the field of mathematics, and completed a research masters degree in Education exploring gender differences in the perceptions of post-16 mathematics. James currently hold a part time position as Lecturer in Mathematics at UCLan, delivering the investigative mathematics module for the medical school at West Lakes Campus. James is also director of Red Pike Education; and an NCETM accredited PD-Lead for the northern Maths Hubs.

Tatiana teaches different topics in medical sciences including Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, and Scientific Communications. Tatiana is Lead of Biochemistry and Body Systems Modules.

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Eric is a GP by training and works with 3rd Year Medical students on their campus day teaching programme. He has extensive experience of training GPs, Physician Associates, Undergraduate medical students and other Postgraduate medical teachers.

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Dr Tim Sanders is a GP in Appleby-in-Westmorland. Alongside his clinical role, he is a Clinical Lecturer in Rural Medicine for us. He also co-ordinates the clinical teaching programme for Cumbria Health on Call. He is a GP appraiser and Mental Health Act Section 12 approved GP. 

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Prof John Howarth is a senior clinician with over 36 years experience. Between 2018 and 2020 he established North Cumbria Primary Care a new not for profit GP provider covering 11 practices and 103,000 population. He is currently it’s chief executive and medical director. Prior to that he worked at board level for the local NHS foundation trust for 9 years being deputy CEO for the last four. The trust initially covered community services and MH later merging with the acute trust peaking at £450m turnover with 8000 staff. He led the first wave response for the trust to Covid 19 acting as strategic commander. John was a GP in Cockermouth for over 20 years. He current works 2 days a week clinically in Whitehaven and is Professor of Primary Care with us.

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Jane currently teaches Scientific Communication, Case Base Studies and English for the Medical Sciences on the BSc Medical Sciences Foundation Entry course at the Westlakes Campus. She also collaborates on projects with the School of Medicine.

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National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine
UCLan Westlakes Campus
Samuel Lindow Building
Westlakes Science and Technology Park
Moor Row, Cumbria, CA24 3J

Tel: +44 (0)1946 517200

NCRRM Manager: Valerie Smart,, 01945517230