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Duke of Kent opens new medical school Academic Centre

The centre, which the Duke opened on Tuesday (February 20), cements a partnership between the University of Buckingham and Milton Keynes University Hospital.

The University of Buckingham Medical School Academic Centre is a pioneering venture developed from the advanced technology-based learning provision in medical training schools in the USA.

It is a purpose-built academic centre within the hospital grounds where, unusually for medical school courses, students will work with real patients from day one of their course.

Facilities include a simulated operating theatre and video link showing live procedures taking place in the hospital’s operating theatres, working replicas of clinical wards and a 200-seat lecture with capacity to stream lectures throughout the building.

  • Pictured: (from left) University of Buckingham vice chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon; HRH The Duke of Kent; Joe Harrison, chief executive of Milton Keynes Hospital Trust.

Milton Keynes Hospital Trust chief executive Joe Harrison said: “This is a brilliant building in which we can train the next generations of clinicians.

“The NHS is under immense pressure to deal with ever-increasing demand from a growing population. In many ways we are victims of our own success, helping people to live longer and more fulfilling lives with complex conditions.

“The chance to train and retain more clinicians, and recruit more using the pull of this academic centre, will help us to better meet the needs of local people and continue to provide excellent care in years to come.”

The building includes a £2 million grant from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership via its Local Growth Fund initiative.

Acting chief executive Hilary Chipping said: “This innovative hospital teaching facility will be a great resource for Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands attracting doctors to the city to meet the needs of the growing population at the centre of the Oxford to Cambridge Corridor.

"We will continue to work with the University of Buckingham to monitor the full impact of this exciting new facility.”

Guests at the official opening also included Milton Keynes MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart, Buckinghamshire’s Lord-Lieutenant Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and High Sheriff Peter Kara, the respective Mayors of Milton Keynes and Buckingham David Hopkins and John Harvey and Milton Keynes Council chief executive Carole Mills.

The Academic Centre also is able to stream for live transmission, which will enable students’ clinical practice and demonstrations from teaching clinicians to be watched live within the building or shared further afield.

Students can practise advanced procedures on life-like medical mannequins, which will allow them to see real human responses without any risk to human wellbeing.

Traditionally the training of doctors in the UK has been supported by public sector partnerships between state-funded universities and NHS hospitals.

However, the University of Buckingham Medical School Academic Centre is a private and public sector partnership that draws on the experience, resources and established clinical models of the NHS at Milton Keynes Hospital to provide practical training and clinical tuition for the university’s medical students. 

Medical courses at Buckingham are completed in a 4.5 year MB ChB programme due to reduced holiday time. The University of Buckingham was the first independent medical school in the country when it opened its doors in 2015.

John Clapham, the university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Health Sciences, said: “As the intake grows,  a new riverside site has been prepared for a new medical school building at Buckingham. This will allow the numbers of students to expand without diluting the quality of the learning experience.”

Plans are in place to develop a dental school and a school of podiatry, sharing many of the resources that have already been developed, he added.

“Much more is planned to put both the hospital and the university at the forefront of medical research for the benefit of patients.” 

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