Speaking about the announcement that the graduate-entry medical school at Ulster University’s Magee campus has successful progressed through to the next steps of the General Medical Council’s (GMC) rigorous quality assurance process for new medical schools, Dr Alan Stout, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland general practitioners committee, said: “We’re delighted with this achievement as it now means Ulster University will be able to take on its first cohort of medical students beginning from the 2021/2022 academic year.
“The emphasis in this medical school will be on general practice and it is well known that we have massive staffing gaps in this area across Northern Ireland, particularly in the west of the country. Practices right across the area report that they have to rely on locums to cover annual leave or sickness absences. Single handed GPs are desperate to recruit new partners but cannot find people willing to relocate. These issues existed prior to COVID-19, however the pandemic served to throw them into even sharper focus.
“We need more GPs working in local communities there. Recent evidence shows medical students are more likely to stay and work in the areas in which they study, so a medical school based in the north west will hopefully help address some of the medical workforce issues we have on this side of Northern Ireland.”