Efforts to boost numbers have been made in recent years but they have been hampered by difficulties in recruitment prompting calls for innovative measures to tackle the problem, from the city council directly employing GPs and a trial through which pharmacists can issue prescriptions.
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‘We’d be focused on making a major contribution to the regional health the workforce needs: education, research, innovation, and creating a halo effect for the region,’ she said. ‘It would be focused on Portsmouth, south east Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the West Sussex.
‘We’d be looking to create a lot of student intake from this region. The idea is that we try to grow our own and looking to them retain those students in the region afterwards.’
This ambition has been backed by Gosport MP and former health minister Caroline Dinenage who has described GP numbers in the region as ‘arresting’.
‘If the University of Portsmouth is successful in its bid to open a medical school it would be a step towards supplying Gosport, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight with more doctors, which we sorely lack and which our region’s populations deserve,’ she said earlier this year.
The school is expected to take an initial cohort of 50 students for the four-year course with this number eventually increased to 80 per year.
According to the British Medical Association, there is a shortage of 50,000 doctors across the UK and that 14,500 students needed to be graduating each year to fill the gap.
Professor Hoskins said this required all existing medical schools to increase their intake but that 10 new schools were also needed.
‘There is space for new medical schools,’ she added. ‘It is our belief that smaller regionally-focused medical schools can really support the health economy in a way that larger medical schools perhaps can’t.’
She admitted that there would also be benefits for the university through financial gains from the school and an expected increase in reputationby being connected to it.
But she said the medical programme would ‘widen’ local participation in the sector with the aim that graduates with strong connections to the area would not move away.
For its first year, the school will work with Brighton and Sussex Medical School to ensure the course is run correctly.
The university has been supported by Portsmouth health organisations, including the NHS and city council.
Council chief executive David Williams said the school would boost ‘the longer term improvement in the availability of clinicians’.
‘I’m afraid the city council are unlikely to be your sugar daddy on this,’ he said. ‘But anything that we can do to help in terms of the lobbying, and certainly in terms of encouraging multi-agency engagement, we’d be very happy to do.’
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