Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has announced plans for the expansion of medical education across Wales, including new opportunities to study at Bangor University.
By 2019, through collaboration between Cardiff and Bangor Universities, arrangements are expected to be in place for students to be able to study all of their medical degree in north Wales.
This will be accompanied by an immediate expansion of medical education in Wales, with 40 new funded medical places available from September, 20 in each of Cardiff and Swansea medical schools. Swansea University will also collaborate with Aberystwyth University to increase opportunities in west Wales.
Students will undertake as much of their studies as possible in community based settings to reflect Welsh Government policy that care should be delivered as close to patients’ homes as possible.
Mr Gething said: “I am very pleased to announce that students will be now be able to start their journey of becoming doctors by studying medicine in north Wales. This is the result of Welsh universities working together to address the challenges we face in sustaining our medical workforce in Wales.
“I have always been clear that, rather than creating a new medical school in North Wales, the best way to expand medical education there would be through collaboration. This means we will have students studying medicine in north Wales far quicker than we would ever see through the establishment of a new medical school.
“It is also important to acknowledge the challenges faced in other parts of Wales, especially in the west. That is why we are increasing numbers at Swansea and supporting them to work with Aberystwyth University to ensure increased opportunities in west Wales.”
Bangor University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John G. Hughes said: “This is a tremendously exciting development, and we very much look forward to working with Cardiff University and the health boards to educate many more doctors in north Wales over the coming years.
“This development, starting in 2019, will allow us to rapidly expand the medical education currently provided at Bangor University and introduce more medical students to north Wales, which will no doubt be of benefit to patients and the public in the region. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in bringing this to fruition. A lot of hard work now lies ahead, and I know that everyone will be doing all they can to make this a great success.”
Siân Gwenllian AM and MP Hywel Williams who have been campaigning to bring full undergraduate medical training to Bangor said: “This is excellent news as it will mean that for first time doctors will be based in Bangor for their medical training.
“As there is overwhelming evidence to show that medical students stay to become GPs and doctors in the area they are trained, this development is great news for patients who currently face long waiting times for appointments due to doctor shortages.
“Plaid Cymru has always maintained that we need more doctors and other professional staff in order to improve our cherished NHS.
“We have been pressing hard for full undergraduate medical training in Bangor and I’m glad that the Government has listened at last.
“This is a collective victory. Thank you to everyone who campaigned with us and to colleagues in Bangor University and Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board for their determination in achieving this goal.
“Introducing undergraduate medical education will enhance the University and Ysbyty Gwynedd and in turn will bring immense benefits to the city of Bangor and its people.
“It will also open up new opportunities for young people from north Wales who currently have to leave the area to train to become doctors. This is a good day for north Wales!”