CIVIC leaders across Bolton have welcomed the announcement that £20m has been awarded to the town's proposed medical college.

The announcement was announced in Chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget on Wednesday and has been described as a "game changer" by council leaders.

The Bolton College of Medical Sciences is a joint venture between the University of Bolton, Bolton Council, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton College, based at Royal Bolton Hospital.

Council leader Martyn Cox said: “Levelling up is not just about infrastructure, it is also about improving skills and creating opportunities.

“The council is committed to bringing prosperity and quality employment into the borough and this announcement marks a huge step towards achieving this.

“The last year has shown just how vital our health and social care staff are, and I’m delighted that Bolton will now play a key role in training the workforce of the future.

“There were a number of potential bids under consideration, but we worked closely with the university, the foundation trust and our local MPs to prioritise this project and secure a major investment for Bolton.”

The NHS trust hopes the new medical college facility will transform how health and social care workers are trained and will help alleviate staffing pressures.

Trust chief executive Fiona Noden said: "We’re absolutely thrilled by the news that we’re receiving the funding to support the development of the Bolton College of Medical Sciences. This is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Bolton.

"I’m really proud that through our established partnership working we will be training and developing the future, and existing workforce, of Bolton healthcare right here on the hospital site."

The organisations behind the plans claim that the college will be able to teach 3,000 students a year, with around 1,000 apprentices in a range of health and social care roles.

It will include a teaching and learning space, café, an associated staff and service space, and a dedicated multi-story car park.

Prof George Holmes, the university's vice chancellor, said: “This is an historic moment for our town and the university.

“This announcement means more than levelling up, it provides a springboard to an entirely different level in Bolton, which will provide high level professional medical careers for generations to come.

“It really is a game-changer and we are delighted by the news. It also takes the University to a whole new level in terms of training in medicine – all the more important in the context of the strains the NHS faces after the past 20 months of the pandemic.

“Bolton College of Medical Sciences marks a new era of healthcare skills and training and we are tremendously grateful to the council for supporting this bid.”

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi, who lobbied for funding, said: “This is a real opportunity to use the college as a springboard for development in the local economy, education and skills, to help thrust Bolton forward and grow as a force in the North West and beyond.”

Bolton North East MP Mark Logan said: "This new £20m of Government funding is great for Bolton and will do wonders for our economy through new training and employment opportunities. It’s exactly the kind of investment we need to improve the daily lives of Bolton’s residents and their healthcare."

The college hopes to welcome its first intake in 2023.