Ulster University 'optimistic' on new medical school at Magee

Ulster University Magee
Image caption The new medical school would be based at Magee Campus

Plans to devlop Northern Ireland's second medical school in Londonderry have moved a step closer.

That is according to representatives of Ulster University (UU) who met with Derry City and Strabane District councillors on Thursday.

They updated the council on its aims to have 80 medical students at the Magee Campus by September 2019.

Professor Hugh McKenna, Dean of Medical School Development, said he was "optimistic" it would happen.

"There are lots of challenges along this journey but we appear to be meeting them so far," Mr McKenna told BBC Radio Foyle.

"It means that we would start off with 80 students over a four-year programme, so that is going to increase the amount of students doing a medical degree in the north west and it means that is also going to attract extra staff."

There are eight accreditation stages UU has to pass before it is granted a licence by the General Medical Council (GMC).

So far, they have submitted stage one and two and are working on stage three.

Image caption UU want to boost the number of trained health professionals in Northern Ireland

The university also has to jump over a number of hurdles to get the blessing, and funding, of Stormont.

They include a strategic outline case, which was presented to the previous executive, an outline business case and a final business case.

Prof McKenna said they are "two thirds of the way" through their outline business case, which would include details on government funding.

"I think this will be a political decision and the politicians may decide no, we don't want to spend money on another medical school," Prof McKenna said.

"I would hope not, all our stars appear to be in alignment and everything is going according to plan for a September 2019 start so I am very optimistic.

"That's why we're working on an outline business case, I would hope in the next month or so we would have the exact figures in terms of the amount of capital we need.

"At the moment there is a severe shortage in the number of nurses in Northern Ireland so while the cost of having a medical school have to be taken into account the cost of not having a medical school also has to be taken into account," he added.

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