Magee medical school: Lack of business case 'holding up progress'

Ulster University Magee
Image caption The Magee campus is on Derry's Northland Road

No progress can be made on a medical training school in Londonderry until Ulster University (UU) submits a final business case, peers have been told.

A business case has been submitted to the Department of Health (DoH) in NI but it remains at an outline stage.

UU said it had "submitted a complete outline business case on 21 October".

DoH said work was continuing on "the outline business case, and we cannot comment on the detail of this until it is completed".

On Monday, the House of Lords heard "nothing can happen" with the proposed school at Magee without the finalised plan.

Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Duncan said progress "rests with the institution itself to put forward the case".

However, a spokesperson for the university said: "We are satisfied that it is complete for consideration/ministerial approval."

'Nothing can happen'

Lord Duncan was responding to a question from former Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice.

He said that while it remained a matter of "devolved authority" the "first step will necessarily be taking forward the examination of the business case".

Image caption Ulster University had hoped to welcome the first student intake of medical students in 2019

Ulster University said it had continued to work "proactively" to develop the project.

"Our responses to any remaining clarifications within the Graduate Entry Medical School business case were submitted to the Department of Health in October, following prompt and close engagement with the Department and other relevant partners," a spokesperson said.

"As the Department of Health has previously confirmed that any decision on funding can only be made by Ministers, the University is not actively recruiting medical students

"If funding was confirmed, all other elements of the proposal for our graduate entry medical degree programme have been firmly on track."

Delay

The medical school at Magee was meant to open this year but Ulster University's vice chancellor said it had been held up by the lack of devolved government.

The only medical school in Northern Ireland at present is at Queen's University in Belfast.

It is hoped about 60 doctors will train in Derry in the first year of the medical school.

It is planned that student numbers at Magee will rise to 120 students a year within five years of the school opening.

The expansion of the university in Derry and the opening of a medical training in school in the north west has long been regarded as a catalyst for economic growth in the region.

About £70m of the £105m city deal funding package has been allocated to the Ulster University to facilitate the expansion of Magee including the graduate entry medical school centres of innovation and excellence in data analytics and robotics and automation.

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