Reporter 434, 29 March 1999

Medical school bid launched at lunch

The School of Medicine launched its pioneering bid to train more doctors at a lunchtime reception in its clinical skills learning centre on March 15. The scheme - a joint venture with the Open University and the NHS in Bradford and Airedale - is the first of its kind in Europe. The proposals have received widespread backing from MPs, health professionals and community leaders, many of whom attended the launch.

These included MP for Bradford West Marsha Singh and Michael McGowan, MEP for Leeds, chief executive of Bradford Metropolitan District Council Ian Greenwood and Akram Khan-Cheema, the chairman of the Muslim Education Forum.

Welcoming the visitors, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Wilson explained the bid would bring another 80 or so students into the school on a completely new track. The scheme will allow students to begin their education part-time with the Open University before taking up a place alongside third year students in the medical school.

A flexible new curriculum has been drawn up which will enable students to utilise the latest computer-based learning techniques. There will also be facilities for them to develop their clinical skills, thanks to strong links with hospitals, health centres and surgeries within the Bradford and Airedale NHS.

In Bradford, one in five residents and up to one in three hospital patients are from ethnic minority communities. The bid paves the way for more medical students to experience the unique challenges of delivering healthcare to different population groups in the same district. It will also create opportunities to recruit minority ethnic students from local communities, in particular women, by enabling them to study at home.

"Home grown doctors will be of great service to the local population and communities," said Ashwani Kumar Gautam, chairman of the Hindu Temple Federation. "They can certainly be in a better position to empathise with the local people," he said.

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