The costs of medical education are so great that some believe that students from lower income families are put off from applying, reinforcing medicine’s image as a profession for the already privileged. The latest attempt to overcome the cost barrier comes from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), which in partnership with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUHT), will offer scholarships for its medicine degree, aimed specifically at students residing in the East Lancashire and Cumbria regions.
The scholarships, which will commence in September 2017, are for the MBBS (Bachelor Medicine Bachelor Surgery) degree which consists of a modern, integrated training programme. UCLan is seeking local students whose circumstances mean they are unlikely to study medicine despite being academically capable, in order to promote social mobility and widen participation.
The MBBS course at UCLan was designed in partnership with local NHS Trusts, enabling it to be built around the workforce needs of these partners. The scholarships are part of a wider, long-term UCLan strategy to attract and retain local doctors to NHS employment in the region – given the issues both Lancashire and Cumbria have faced around attracting and retaining health professionals.
Due to the restriction on the number of government funded UK medical training places at the time, UCLan has until now only been able to accept full fee-paying international students. However, the launch of these scholarships for local students has come as the health secretary announced an additional 1,500 medical training places. UCLan has already announced its intention to bid for share of these, in order to realise the goal of developing a sustainable medical workforce in Lancashire and Cumbria.
Professor Cathy Jackson, head of the UCLan’s School of Medicine, said: “We developed the MBBS course in partnership with our local NHS Trusts, and the aim has always been to provide a channel to train local doctors to then practise in these communities. These scholarships are just the start, and show our commitment – and that of our partner Trusts – to address the issues around doctor recruitment that these regions face.
“By focusing on local students we not only promote social mobility, but increase the chances that these graduates will stay and practise in the local communities – rather than being drawn off to work in urban centres.”
Kevin McGee, Chief Executive at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust are keen to support our local community in any and every way we can. What better way to do this than to facilitate the medical training of a local, aspiring doctor who can then go on to join ‘the best of the best’ – our clinical workforce. The Trust is delighted to partner with and support UCLan’s new medical school and we look forward to providing ongoing medical education to their students.”
Stephen Eames, Chief Executive at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted to be a partner alongside UCLan in the development of the Dr Kate Granger scholarship. This is a fantastic opportunity for a local student to train at their local hospital. In addition, it is one of the many steps we are taking to address our longstanding medical recruitment difficulties. We have had to start thinking ‘out of the box’ when planning our future workforce models and our partnership with UCLan will help us to both grow our own medical talent and bring in new expertise for the benefit of patient care in West, North & East Cumbria.”
The McKenzie scholarship from ELHT is named after Sir James Mackenzie – one of Lancashire’s most illustrious medical researchers – while the Kate Granger scholarship from NCUHT is named after the health campaigner and geriatrician behind the #hellomynameis campaign. Both include all fees for five years tuition, plus a bursary for subsistence. It is not clear if there will be conditions for these scholarships, like a fixed period of working in the donor areas, but this would seem sensible to prevent too much mobility – the drift to the medical golden triangle of Oxford-London-Cambridge being the obvious example.
The final deadline for applications is 15th January 2017. For more information, visit: www.uclan.ac.uk/mbbsscholarships