A TOTAL £30 million of funding has been secured to create a new medical academy in Farnworth.

Bolton College of Medical Sciences hopes to take its first group of students in 2022.

MARY NAYLOR reports.

THANKS to a grant of £10 million work has begun in earnest to bring a vision of a new medical education centre to the grounds of Royal Bolton Hospital.

The £10 million has been given to the project by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Skills Capital Fund and will enable a training centre for medical professionals to be built.

It is hoped the college will simultaneously be able to train up existing staff at Royal Bolton Hospital and target its workforce shortages by helping to create a new generation of healthcare professionals.

Andy Ennis, chief operating officer at the hospital trust, said: “This is really exciting.

“It will bring training opportunities for both new and existing staff and we can expand the success we have seen with the Bolton nursing school to other members of staff such as therapists.

“The new college will be beneficial for staff but also the local population, providing new opportunities in the health sector and contributing to the local economy.

“This new facility will help us continue to be a learning organisation and fulfil our ambition of being the best provider of healthcare.

“By developing our staff and the staff of the future, we are ensuring the very latest methods and thinking go into patient care and delivering the best outcomes for our patients.”

The remainder of the £30 million for the college project will come from investment by the University of Bolton group, with £1 million already approved (in 2018) for the scheme coming from Bolton Council.

Kondal Reddy Kandadi, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: “This strategic initiative will transform health education in Greater Manchester and the wider region.

“It will provide state of the art facilities and next generation learning experience for students.

“Crucially, it will enable Bolton College and the University of Bolton to dramatically increase capability and capacity in an area where there is a nationally recognised and urgent skills gap.”

Education consultancy firm Just Ask Scarlett, based in London, has helped guide the project to this stage.

The firm estimates the project will contribute £150 million to the Bolton economy through job creation and career development opportunities.

Managing director Mark O’Reilly said: “Having raised my family in Farnworth, I am proud to be working on a project that will make such a huge difference to the local community.

“This project is testament to the forward-thinking nature of the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton Council, Bolton College and the University of Bolton, and will provide a blueprint to the rest of Greater Manchester on how we can create jobs for local people, address skills gaps and help future-proof the NHS workforce.”

The new college will be able to teach 3,000 students a year and hopes to support around 1,000 apprenticeships each year across a whole range of healthcare roles.

These include physician and trainee nurse associate roles, advanced practitioners and health care support staff. 

The plan is also to offer high level training equivalent to qualifications needed for medical schools. 

Bill Webster, principal of Bolton College, said: “The Bolton College of Medical Sciences aims to make it easier for local people to access education and career opportunities in the healthcare sector.

“This will simultaneously improve the current healthcare provision available in the area, by alleviating current staffing pressures in the NHS.

“This funding means we are one step closer to creating state-of-the-art facilities that will upskill and future-proof the NHS workforce in Greater Manchester, whilst creating thousands of jobs and contributing millions to the local economy.”

Further details about the curriculum are expected in the coming months assuming planning permission is granted for the project.

The college will focus on hand-son learning with simulated hospital environments for students to learn and train in, as well as areas designed as surgical suites and acute care settings. All of these will include the latest medical technology for students to train with.

These suites will be built alongside dedicated classrooms and communal spaces for staff and students.

The designs also include a café.

The Bolton College of Medical Sciences complements Bolton Council’s plans for the regeneration of Farnworth which is set to launch this spring. It also forms part of the council’s Bolton 2030 vision to focus on improving the health and wellbeing of local residents, while growing the economy.