A crucial vote on plans for a new medical college in Bolton could be a “game changer” in meeting the borough’s need for NHS staff.

This is according to the University of Bolton’s vice chancellor, Professor George E Holmes, who says he believes this could be the best way to tackle the “enormous” gap in the region for highly trained health staff.

This comes amid well-documented pressures faced by the NHS in Bolton and beyond, with waiting times having grown and a large backlog of patients in need of non-urgent surgery still in place after the Covid pandemic.

Professor Holmes said: “Its development comes at a time when the NHS needs more highly trained staff more than ever - it is widely documented that there is an enormous skills gap in the sector which needs to be filled.

“BCMS will help to plug this gap locally, regionally and nationally and its development is an historic moment for our town and the University of Bolton Group, which included Bolton College.”

The Bolton News:

The college is part of a £20m project

The college is being planned in collaboration between the University of Bolton, Bolton College, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and the council.

Prof Holmes says that when finished it will be able to teach 3,000 students a year, with around 1,000 apprentices in a range of health and social care roles.

The project was made possible after Bolton was granted £20million worth of “Levelling Up” funds in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget last October.

Prof Holmes said: “We were thrilled when we found out that we had been successful with our Levelling Up funding bid, but that news in the autumn means much more than levelling up.

“It provides a springboard to an entirely different level in Bolton, which will provide high calibre professional medical careers for generations to come.

“It really is a game-changer.

“It also takes the university to a whole new level in terms of training in medicine, which is all the more important in the context of the strains the NHS faces after the past two years of the pandemic.”

The vote is set to take place at Bolton Council on Thursday, June 23.