University of Hertfordshire successfully passes first stage in ambitious plans to open a new medical school

 1 January 2024 1 August 2023
1 August 2023

The University of Hertfordshire has announced its intentions to open a new medical school to help meet the region’s, and wider UK’s, urgent need for more healthcare professionals

Working closely with key NHS partners and wider sector stakeholders, the University has already successfully passed the first stage of the eight-stage, five-year application process, which – if approved – would see the first cohort of medical students arrive in 2027, if not before.

The University’s new medical school will be the first of its kind in the county, building on the University’s existing and extensive portfolio of healthcare education, facilities, research, partner and specialist staff, primarily to train highly skilled doctors. It’s expected to bring substantial benefits and improvements to patient care across Hertfordshire, where the latest findings show there are currently 0.5 GPs for every 1000 patients – compared to approximately 2.8 GPs nationally.

It would also open up significant new research opportunities and funding within medical and life sciences and help to support increasing demand to study medicine in the East of England, which has risen 47% in the last five years. Currently the number one university in the region for social mobility, the University has also pledged to make diversity and widening access to the professions a priority for the medical school, in line with the University’s values and with recent calls from the Royal College of Physicians to broaden participation in medicine.

The news has come at a pertinent time, following the government’s recent announcement of its comprehensive NHS Long Term Workforce Plan to futureproof the NHS and address significant issues such as staff shortfalls, record patient waiting times, and an increasing ageing population. The plan, supported by an initial £2.4 billion cash injection, outlines ambitions to recruit more than 300,000 new staff – including 60,000 doctors – over the next 15 years; to retain an extra 130,000 healthcare workers; to vastly expand healthcare apprenticeships; and to double the number of medical school places.

University of Hertfordshire Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julie Newlan MBE, said:

“Our NHS is in crisis right now and it's long been known that universities are going to be one of the key drivers behind fixing it. It’s why we’re pleased the government has listened and placed them at the centre of the new NHS workforce plan, outlining the biggest recruitment drive in NHS history.

“Our proposal for the new School of Medicine aligns with many of the measures put forward by the government to tackle the chronic issues currently impacting the NHS. Expanding on the University’s existing excellence in healthcare education, research and socio-economic impact, it will allow us to drive productivity and innovation in the health economy, progress our medical research capacity, further strengthen key partnerships with our local NHS trusts and Integrated Care Boards and support our commitment to widening participation within the sector.

“Most importantly, this development will address critical medical professional shortfalls by training more highly skilled doctors – ultimately having a positive impact on the health and care being provided within local communities and beyond.”

The new School of Medicine will be closely aligned with the University’s School of Health and Social Work, which specialises in nursing, midwifery, radiography, paramedic science and the allied health professions; and the School of Life Sciences, which offers a diverse array of subjects including biosciences, pharmaceutical science, psychology, dietetics, sports science, geography and environmental science.

To accommodate this expansion, the University is also currently scoping a multi-million-pound, state-of-the-art Medicine, Health and Social Work Building on its College Lane campus. This new facility will act as a focal point for health and medical training through inter-disciplinary and simulated practice, complementing the existing clinical facilities in the Science Building.

The University’s bid for a medical school is being supported by St George’s, University of London. It's the next step in the long-standing relationship between the two organisations, that will build on existing staff collaborations and shared values – notably, a commitment to widening access to the professions.

Professor Jenny Higham, Vice-Chancellor of St George’s, said: 

“The University of Hertfordshire have impressed us with their vision and determination to create a new medical school to meet urgent local, regional, and national workforce needs.  We particularly commend the University’s commitment to widening access as a way of ensuring that the future workforce is more representative of the population it seeks to serve.

“We look forward to working closely with colleagues at the University in the coming years, sharing our wealth of experience and expertise in medical education. Together we aim to ensure that Hertfordshire's future students receive the very best academic support to enable their progression to become competent, capable and caring doctors”.

The bid is further supported by a number of key local NHS and wider health and care sector partners, including Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust; Herts and West Essex Integrated Care Board and Integrated Care Partnership; Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust; Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust; West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; and primary care partners, with up to 20 local GP practices supporting the bid to date.


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