Northern Ireland

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BMA Northern Ireland gives cautious welcome to proposals for new graduate medical school

British Medical Association Northern Ireland (BMA NI) has called for proposals for a new graduate medical school based in Ulster University’s Magee campus in Derry-Londonderry to support access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and to have a comparable rise in medical training posts.

Chair of Northern Ireland Medical Students Committee, Molly Kerr, was speaking about the proposals during her address to BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting 2016, the yearly UK-wide gathering of BMA’s members which is being held this week in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

The proposals for the graduate entry medical school were first announced back in March by the then Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA.  Minister Hamilton said he was in talks with Ulster University about the possibility of basing the school at the University’s north-western campus in Derry, which will specialise in GP training, as a means of addressing chronic shortages in the GP workforces in the area. 

Mr Hamilton cited ‘unsustainable’ locum costs in the Western Trust as one of his reasons for considering the proposals, along with encouraging medical students to stay and work in the west of the country, a region that is experience severe staffing shortages across many medical specialities, particularly general practice.

Addressing this week’s ARM about the proposals, Molly Kerr said any new graduate medical school needed to support access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and come with a rise in medical training posts.

“A new medical school ought to address the need to widen participation to medicine by implementing measures to ensure those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are not in any way disadvantaged as they seek to embark on their medical career,” said Miss Kerr.

“Furthermore, any increase in medical student places ought to be accompanied by an appropriate increase in the number of medical training posts.  Without a rise in the number of post-graduate training positions to accompany any increase in the number of medical students being trained per year, we risk losing medical students to the other nations or indeed further afield, after having invested in their training at a local university.  

“Overall, if the above criteria are acknowledged and properly addressed, this proposal of a new medical school could be a real solution to workforce planning issues.  However necessary University of Ulster must recognise the criteria outlined in this motion, in order for this to be sustainable, realistic and for the overall benefit of those embarking on a career in the medical profession and the health service of Northern Ireland.”

Notes to Editors:

  • For more information please contact Gráinne Brinkley, Communications officer on 07408805067, 028 9026 9673  and [email protected]
  • The British Medical Association (BMA) is the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK. It is an apolitical professional organisation and independent trade union, representing doctors and medical students from all branches of medicine across the UK and supporting them to deliver the highest standards of care.

For further information please contact:

BMA Northern Ireland, 16 Cromac Place, Cromac Wood, Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 2JB
028 9026 9666   (switchboard)
028 9026 9672   (direct line)
074 0880 9519   (mobile / out of hours)
Email: [email protected] 
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