Birmingham City University has secured new government funding as part of a more than £3.5million redevelopment of a skills and training hub for healthcare workers of the future.
The University is investing £1.57 million of its own money on the refurbishment and has landed a further £2million from the government’s Office for Students following a successful capital funding bid last year.
The money will be spent on a revamping the skills hub at the University’s Seacole Building at its Edgbaston-based City South Campus, which is used to provide hands-on, practical training for those studying on health courses such as nursing and midwifery.
It will provide even better facilities for students by introducing a high-tech and high-spec suite of resources fitted with state-of-the-art equipment including 5G technology to allow for advice, diagnoses and procedures to be supported by real-time mobile network connections.
Professor Ian Blair, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University and Executive Dean of its Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, believes the refurbishment will strengthen its position as a leading healthcare education provider and considers the investment from the Office for Students an endorsement of the University’s commitment to developing a workforce well-equipped to meet future needs.
Professor Blair said: “We’re really pleased to have secured funding from the Office for Students, and I think the success of our bid is testament to the strong case we made to meet employer demands around the recruitment and retention of nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.
“We work closely with hospitals and trusts to ensure training of new recruits is fully up to date with the latest standards and is tailored towards employers’ particular needs. But as well as meeting future workforce requirements, we’re also focused on knowledge enhancement and upskilling of current staff members through continuing professional development.”
Teaching facilities already housed within the Seacole Building include a simulated operating theatre and hospital wards, a fully equipped birthing room, a simulated home environment and a fully functional radiography suite and 3D imaging diagnostic suite.
The £3.57million pound upgrade will see the refurbishment of the building’s existing skills hub, where students receive hands-on healthcare training to complement their learning. Two new hubs will also be created, alongside a new resuscitation room, the redesign and renovation of a theatre suite, and installation of new specialist simulation equipment for midwifery, nursing and healthcare teaching.
In addition to the physical improvements being made, the building’s digital infrastructure will be revamped – with increased capacity for 5G connectivity – reflecting the increasing use of virtual reality, simulation and other method of remote communication technologies in healthcare treatment and teaching.
The installation of the 5G capabilities will be supported by researchers in the University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment, who specialise in the study and promotion of the latest advances in telecommunications.
Professor Blair added: “The use of digital technologies forms a key part of the NHS long-term plan and are increasingly prevalent in modern healthcare.
“The pandemic has accelerated their use with things like virtual consultations and intelligent, remote care becoming more commonplace now. But teaching has also been impacted and major bodies like the Nursing and Midwifery Council are now incorporating additional simulated learning hours into their training standards.
“We’ve likewise been trialling virtual learning and with this latest investment we’ll be able to expand our provision and continue to develop new, innovative ways of learning through simulation.”
The redevelopment work at the Seacole Building is starting this month with the newly revamped facilities open for use in May.