EXCITING plans could see a new £30m medical training centre come to Royal Bolton Hospital, Local Democracy Reporter NICK STATHAM looks at the potential benefits to the borough.

A STATE-OF-THE-ART medical and clinical training academy could open at Royal Bolton Hospital in less than three year’s time if a project led by Bolton College is successful in securing vital funding.

The college is developing plans for a new centre to open by early 2021 with partners The University of Bolton, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton Council.

It has submitted a detailed business case bid for £10m of funding through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Skills Capital Fund, with the remaining £20m coming from the partnership. Bolton Council is expected to sign off its £1m contribution today.

If funding is given the green light by GMCA the academy would deliver a huge boost to the borough, providing what a council report describes as a “much needed vocational and technical training for local people”.

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The centre is expected to create some 20,000 apprenticeships – 5,000 over the first 10 years - and accommodate 60,000 learners over its lifetime.

Bill Webster, acting Principal of Bolton College, said: “We are delighted to be working with partners in our joint aim to develop and deliver a high quality skills base to the health sector in Bolton and for the wider Greater Manchester city region.

“This initiative in collaboration with Bolton Council, the NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Bolton and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, would provide a tremendous boost for Bolton. It will help us in growing local highly skilled work force for the health sector which is currently facing significant skills gaps nationally.”

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He added:“We are still in the bidding process at the moment and are working hard collectively.

“However, it is fantastic that key partners are working together on these ambitious plans which would deliver local jobs and local skills.”

The proposed 6,842 square metre building would also form part of a £125m masterplan for the site currently being developed by hospital bosses.

It would improve access to education in the health sector, enabling local people to ‘work their way up’ through the healthcare, medical and clinical professions.

And as well as creating new opportunities those coming into the profession for the first time, it will also play a key role in “upskilling” the existing health care workforce.

However, It will not replace the traditional routes into the medical and clinical science professions, which are also delivered at the University of Bolton, but instead provide a more accessible way of people entering, and progressing through, the healthcare, medical and clinical sectors.

A council report states that the centre would “support the sustainability of the health a social care sector, setting it apart from other educational institutions”

And leader Cllr Linda Thomas said Bolton Council leader Linda Thomas is hopeful that the plans will be realised.

She said: “This is a unique scheme and we are pleased to be working with our partners on these ambitious plans, which would see a state of the art centre built in Farnworth.

“Our understanding is that a facility like this does not exist currently in the Greater Manchester region.

“If the funding and plans go ahead, the centre will offer training at all levels as well as unique opportunities for our residents to have a career in health and social care.

As part of its application to the GMCA Skills Capital fund, the college says the centre will “employ best-in-class teaching methods including online resources”, as well as “providing clinical simulation suites, cutting-edge demonstration environments and contemporary clinical and medical technology flexible learning spaces.”

The simulation suites will mimic real-life work environments such as clinical suites, A&E departments and medical wards.

It adds that this is one of the reasons why having the centre at the hospital site is so important, as “learners getting the benefit of hands-on training, in specialist, work-based environments with a mix of professional teaching staff and medical and clinical healthcare professionals.

“Learners will learn in a hospital ‘culture’, gaining invaluable understanding of how an NHS site operates and the standards required of employees in that environment. This will greatly enhance employability and assist in functional skills.”