By Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable
Today’s announcement of a new medical school serving Canterbury is wonderful news.
This is something that many people, including myself, have campaigned for over the past decade.
It is an essential part of the plan to improve the woeful waiting times for emergency care and planned operation delivery that we see being faced at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.
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The medical school will offer more than 100 training places for student doctors each year.
What excites me most about the course is that right from the start of their training the students will be working in primary care settings such as GP practices across Kent.
When you hear about the GP shortages in our area, which have caused the closure of surgeries from Folkestone in the south all the way across to the north Kent coast, it is clear that this will come as some help.
Hopefully, with happy student placements some of the doctors that train in Kent will stay in Kent – as some of the talented students who study other subjects here do each year.
The new medical school will also produce high quality research and will be another department uniting the two excellent universities in our city.
I am incredibly proud of the quality of education delivered by both the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University.
Collaborative teams working in the medical school can propose new models of healthcare provision for our area – models that don’t alienate those in areas of high deprivation and take account of horrendous ambulance wait and travel times.
The courses offered by the medical school will not be limited to medicine however. Biological research courses, variants on the existing nursing and community health courses, could all be on offer.
I am very keen to see part-time places being offered so that people can work and train for a new career at the same time.
This will enfranchise those who have families and see many more women, who often find barriers placed on the route to employment post-children, re-enter employment within our local healthcare sector.
Overall, today’s announcement is much cause for celebration. I commend all those groups and individuals who have campaigned for this to happen and praise the collaborative workings of local politicians and our universities.
A brighter future for healthcare in east Kent could be beginning today. I really, truly hope so.