The country’s top GP was in the region this week to visit to the University of Sunderland’s new School of Medicine and meet the team dedicated to training the next generation of doctors.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, representing a network of over 53,000 family doctors, was taken on a tour of the new facilities, officially opening in September to the first cohort of students.
As well as meeting the University Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, Prof Stokes-Lampard, also met up with fellow GP and Head of the School of Medicine, Professor Scott Wilkes. They had been academic training fellows together in the past.
Sunderland is one of only five new medical schools in the UK and is being established to address a regional imbalance of medical education places – and ultimately provide a solution to the shortage of doctors in the north east. One of the key aims is to attract students from the local area with the right skills and talents to become doctors but who might not otherwise consider studying medicine.
Professor Stokes Lampard said: “The opening of the new medical school is fantastic news for Sunderland, its patients, and the future NHS – and I’m delighted that its work is being led by an accomplished GP.
“Scott and his team have big ambitions and I hope that a large proportion of graduates will choose to go into general practice specialty training and eventually become GPs. It’s important that general practice as a profession reflects the communities we work in and the patients we care for, so I’m very impressed with the plans to attract medical students from the local area.
“The Royal College of GPs looks forward to welcoming future generations of family doctors from Sunderland’s medical school in the years to come.”
Following her tour, Prof Stokes Lampard added: “The medical set up here is stunning, there has been a huge amount of thought and research gone into designing and planning a really exciting and innovative medical school. I have no doubt that the new intake of students are going to receive a phenomenal standard of education by dedicated and enthusiastic teachers.
“The future for the wider health and medical training in Sunderland is going to benefit hugely by what’s going on here now. The vision of those who have the courage to take this initiative forward is to be applauded.”
Sir David Bell commented: “We were honoured to have someone of Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard’s standing visiting the University. Welcoming the Chair of the Royal College of GPs to Sunderland is a major coup.
“Helen’s visit was an opportunity for us to share our plans for the School of Medicine, as well as the work we are doing more generally in health-related subjects. It was also helpful for us to gain insights from Helen on national developments in medical education.
“We want our School of Medicine to be well-connected in every way possible. Already, we are very well connected to our local NHS partners. Connecting nationally, through influential figures like Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, is equally important to us.”
Scott Wilkes said: “It is an absolute privilege to host Helen during her visit to the north east. She is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational GP leaders I have ever met. As a practising GP herself she can truly empathise with the stresses faced by our GP workforce and the needs of the NHS”.
“It has been a special day connecting with Helen again in her role as Chair of the RCGP. We trained as National Institute for Health Research doctoral students on the same programme 15 years ago and it’s wonderful that our paths have crossed again”.
“Prof Stokes-Lampard’s RCGP team will be visiting next month to help us establish a GP society for some of our new medical students giving that early link with the Royal College of General Practitioners”.
For more information about our School of Medicine, go to: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/about/school-of-medicine/