Mayor leads cross party call to Minister Swann on Medical School
23 April 2020
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle has led calls for the Minister of Health Robin Swann MLA to immediately sign off on the approval and long-term commitment of funding for the Graduate Entry Medical School at Ulster University’s Magee campus.
The letter to the Minister was co-signed and endorsed by the Foyle MP, Colum Eastwood, the five Foyle MLAs, Gary Middleton, Sinead McLaughlin, Karen Mullan, Mark H Durkan and Martina Anderson, as well as Senator Elisha McCallion, calling for immediate action to be taken on “this hugely important project for the city and wider North West region.”
The Mayor highlighted the fact that the project has full cross-party support, and Derry City and Strabane District Council has voted unanimously on a number of occasions in support of the project, acknowledging its significance to the North West and to Northern Ireland as a whole.
The Mayor stated the current pressures on the healthcare system due to COVID-19 highlighted the need more than ever to equip our communities with medical professionals of the highest order.
She said: “The need for increased capacity in the training of doctors for Northern Ireland was highlighted in the Gardiner Report and the Graduate Entry Medical School at Magee was included in the pledges of New Decade, New Approach. Former Secretary of State Julian Smith confirmed that a sum of £60m had been ring-fenced for this project and the complementary THRIVE (Health Research Institute), which includes £15m to cover all resource funding for the initial 3-4 years of the Medical School.
“Any new Medical School requires General Medical Council (GMC) approval however they cannot proceed with an approval process to enable admissions for September 2021 without a long-term funding commitment by the end of May 2020. Immediate action is required in order to meet the General Medical Council requirement that will in turn facilitate the recruitment and admissions by Ulster University for an initial intake of students in September 2021.”
Concluding the Mayor said the development of the Medical School and the expansion of Magee are intransigently linked and will contribute to the overall growth of the City Region alongside the City Deal proposals.
She said: “A medical school is an essential resource for the North West, with the potential to boost the region’s profile as a centre of clinical excellence and innovation, in tandem with the pioneering research work that is currently taking place at Altnagelvin.
“All of the political parties are unanimous in their agreement that the delivery of a Medical School is in the public interest and as such are calling on Minister Swann to give the final go-ahead for this project.”