Midlands Universities Invest Millions to Plug NHS Skills Gap

Midlands Enterprise Universities (MEU) – a consortium of six universities from across the region – is helping the NHS tackle one of the most pressing challenges in its 70-year history.

A recent report by The Kings Fund found there’s a shortage of more than 100,000 staff and that if the emerging trend of staff leaving the workforce early continues and the pipeline of newly trained staff and international recruits does not rise sufficiently, this number could be more than 350,000 by 2030.

To help tackle this challenge, MEU members the University of Lincoln and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) are investing £44m in two new medical facilities.

The University of Lincoln has just had plans approved for a £21m medical school with the specific aim of aiding the recruitment and retention of doctors in the area while NTU has submitted plans for a dual-site £23m facility dedicated to improving patient care through the development of new technologies.

Lincoln Medical School, which was given the green light by the City of Lincoln Council on Wednesday (27th March), will welcome its first 95 students in September 2019. Within a few years, the school will be delivering first class medical training to around 400 students.

University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor Professor Mary Stuart said: “This is an exciting step forward for everyone with an interest in this project to produce future generations of healthcare professionals. It represents more than just a building – it is a commitment to current and future communities in Lincolnshire to develop sustainable healthcare for the region.

“Soon we will be training our own doctors right here in the heart of Lincoln, creating more opportunities for local young people to aspire to a medical career, providing new routes for experienced clinicians to develop their teaching and research practice, and increasing the likelihood that newly trained doctors will remain in the region once they qualify.”

Nottingham Trent University’s new buildings will form the dual-site Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF) and aim to improve patient care quality by accelerating medical product development.

MTIF will integrate the work of scientists, engineers, clinicians and med-tech entrepreneurs to develop innovative products and advanced materials to meet the future needs of healthcare.

The MTIF project is being supported with up to £9.7m via the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, in addition to NTU’s own funding of more than £13m.

Nottingham Trent University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Edward Peck, said: “Medical technology is one the real strengths of the local economy, one of the real strengths of Nottingham Trent University and a major priority for the Midlands Engine, so this is both a timely and exciting development.”

This investment by the University of Lincoln and NTU, follows on from the opening of Coventry University’s new £59m health and life sciences building, which provides students with hands-on learning experiences by replicating situations they are likely to face in their future careers.

The new facility is home to – among other health courses – Coventry’s nursing associates apprenticeship programme, which has been shortlisted for two awards including the Student Nursing Times Nursing Associate Training Programme Provider of the Year 2019.

Similarly, the University of Wolverhampton has just announced it will be offering healthcare courses at its Telford campus for the first time in its 25-year history as part of its commitment to developing the regional economy and reducing the skills gap.

The university, which last year joined forces with West Midlands Ambulance Service to create the UK’s first university-ambulance trust, is also investing in new state-of-the-art skills labs or ‘mock wards’ to be used by nursing students

In addition, a successful clinical fellowship programme the University pioneered with the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is being rolled out at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust to boost the recruitment of doctors.

MEU Director Jenny Kenning said: “Midlands Enterprise Universities provides support to all areas of the health and social care system to try to resolve some of the complex issues the region faces.

“The training and retention of public sector workers is a major focus for our members, particularly in the health space, and as well as investing in state-of-the-art facilities our academics play a major role in treatment discovery.

“The region is also home to the largest number of medical technology and device companies in the country and the Midlands Engine has identified med-tech and pharmaceuticals as a key sector for growth.

“Working closely with businesses MEU can drive up innovation and improve productivity and competitiveness which will attract investment, projects and clients from around the world.”