University Of Chester Medical School
The University of Chester had planned to start construction on its £40m medical school next year

Edge Hill wins backing for medical school but Chester misses out

Charlie Schouten

Edge Hill University has secured Government backing to open a medical school in Ormskirk, but the University of Chester’s plans for a £40m new-build facility are in doubt after it was unsuccessful in its bid for funding.

Edge Hil is one of five medical schools across the country, and the only one in the North West, to secure backing from Health Education England as part of a plan to support 1,500 more training places for doctors.

The university is now planning to invest in its existing medical school building to house the new teaching facility, which will be ready to welcome its first trainees next year.

Seth Crofts, pro vice-chancellor and dean of the faculty of health and social care said: “Our programme will strongly endorse multi-professional learning and will draw on a wide expertise from doctors who are clinical experts at our hospital and community partners across the North West.

“We are developing a state of the art teaching facility on the Ormskirk campus to house the new Medical School, which will provide leading clinical simulation and laboratory facilities making use of the latest interactive technology.”

While Edge Hill has secured funding, the University of Chester’s plans to build a £40m medical school have been cast into doubt after it was unsuccessful in its bid to Health Education England.

The University had aimed to submit a planning application for a 130,000 sq ft, purpose built facility on its Parkgate Road campus this year, with a view to construction beginning in early 2019.

The preliminary plans for the building included four lecture theatres, six science laboratories, a library, a clinic, and office space.

However, it is understood that while the University has not secured funding this time around, it is still keen to press on with building the facility, and may look to win Government backing at a later stage.

In a statement to Place North West, Chris Haslam, senior pro vice-chancellor and dean of medicine, dentistry and life sciences at the University of Chester, said the Unversity was “disappointed” it had not secured funding, “particularly since extensive discussions over a period of time with our key stakeholders both within and beyond the region have demonstrated extremely strong support and demand for our proposal”.

“To help ensure that we can secure a successful outcome to our proposals, we have sought further information regarding the decision-making process and how we might better evidence the strong demand for a Medical School that our stakeholders have consistently told us would be beneficial to meet the needs of our region,” he said.

Haslam added the University “remains strongly committed” to bringing forward the medical school in the future, and said the University “remained confident this aspiration is achievable”.

“A proposal of this magnitude necessarily takes a phenomenal amount of preparation, including engagement with a significant number of statutory agencies, to enable it to come to fruition. Behind the scenes, a considerable amount of innovative work continues to take place across the University to make our vision an exciting reality.”

The other four medical schools to secure funding from Health Education England are at the University of Sunderland; Anglia Ruskin University; the University of Lincoln; and Canterbury Christ Church University.

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I know of people working at Chester who have been forcibly re-located against their wishes in order to ‘enhance’ Chester’s bid. If this is the type of leadership at Chester then it does not deserve a medical school

By A Patel