A joint bid by Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent to build a medical school has been successful.
The Government and Health Education England (HEE) announces today (Tuesday) that funding will be supplied to the project.
It means the prospect of a brand new hospital in Canterbury to replace the ageing K&C is significantly improved.
It will be Kent’s first ever medical school, bringing together the existing centres of excellence in health and medical education provided by the two universities.
A new medical school is seen as key to attracting and retaining staff to work in the NHS. Its creation alongside a new state-of-the-art hospital was a major issue in the 2017 general election.
Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield said: “This is fantastic news for our city and indeed east Kent more generally.
“Our hospitals have struggled with recruiting and retaining staff in this area and more ‘homegrown’ doctors for the area can only be a good thing.
“I am grateful to both universities and all those who I campaigned alongside to make this happen.
“There are exciting times ahead and this brilliant news just shows how important collaboration and long-term planning for our health services can be.”
The bid for the Kent and Medway Medical School was submitted in November 2017. It was the culmination of more than a year’s work by both universities in response to the Government’s commitment to fund an additional 1,500 medical places by 2020.
Campaign group Concern for Health in East Kent (CHEK) is delighted.
Chairman Ken Rogers told the Canterbury Journal: “This is something CHEK has long campaigned for and we are very hopeful that on the back of today’s news, the announcement of a new hospital in Canterbury is soon to follow.
“This is great news, not just for Canterbury, but also for Thanet and Ashford who will now have a world-class medical training school on their doorstep.”
Prof Rama Thirunamachandran, vice-chancellor and principal of Canterbury Christ Church University, and Prof Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Kent, have made a joint statement on the announcement.
They said: “Our ambition is to develop a school that will become a beacon for first class medical education and research.
“We want it to be the first choice for all those aspiring to achieve excellence in person-centred medical care in the UK.
“We remain confident that, by providing distinctive, socially diverse and insightful graduates, the Kent and Medway Medical School will enable, influence and drive changes within the clinical workforce to deliver high quality healthcare across the region.”
Glenn Douglas of the Kent and Medway NHS added: “We have been clear that Kent and Medway have a big problem staffing NHS posts, and this is causing significant strain on health services.
“We have been fully in support of the bid from our two universities for a medical school. Having a medical school locally is known to provide an essential boost to recruitment and retention and we know this is vital, particularly in our coastal areas.
“We want people in Kent and Medway to seriously consider health and care as a career, and the universities will now be offering an extensive range of courses – including medicine – within our region.”
Developer Mark Quinn of Quinn Estates has offered to build a new hospital as part of a deal which would see him build 2,000 homes to help Canterbury meet its target of 16,000 new houses by 2031.
At the start of the month the Canterbury Journal revealed that a nurse had been sacked by the east Kent hospitals trust had been sacked for calling its former chief executive Matthew Kershaw a “D***HEAD” on social media.