RAO - Year 8 Science and Health Taster Day

Professor Sherria Hoskins, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Health, and Professor John Cookson, Dean of Medical School Development write about the approach being taken to set up a medical school.

Sherria Hoskins

5 minutes

In December 2022 the UK think tank, Policy Exchange, published the paper Double Vision - A roadmap to double medical school places.

The paper included a case study on page 27 of the approach currently being taken at the University of Portsmouth to set up a medical school. The case study is reproduced below.


The University of Portsmouth has long had ambitions for a medical school to build on its current courses in pharmacy, adult nursing, physiotherapy, and physician associates.

Small regional medical schools have a critical and unique role to play in their ability to work with trusted regional health and social care partners to focus on the workforce and health needs of that region. Medical schools have an effect on the local health economy well before any students even arrive, encouraging recruitment and retention from those looking for a teaching role and those planning their research.

Portsmouth and the surrounding area, being both rural and coastal, has a large ageing population and a high incidence of chronic illness and comorbidities, yet, it has one of the worst GP/patient ratios in the UK with 2,559 patients per GP compared to, for example, Liverpool with 1,614, or Wirral, 1,720.

In developing its plans for the school, the University has worked with existing schools and practitioners with an existing track record of success. Brighton and Sussex Medical School is the ‘contingent partner’ while Professor Chris Holland, Founding Dean at Kent Medway Medical School, is an adviser. The Dean of Development is Professor John Cookson, well known for his creation of many medical schools and his research.

The University of Portsmouth Medical School (UPMS) will be small (80-100 students in each year) in order to focus on regional placements. It will be a 4-year graduate entry programme. It is intended to recruit many students locally as these are more likely to stay and serve the local population after qualification, building on the University's strong record of widening participation while maintaining high academic standards. The key focus for UPMS will be to encourage and develop a diverse population of young people from an early age to believe that they can become doctors and support them on that journey.

Although the GMC insists, rightly, that new doctors must be able to enter any branch of the profession, the course is structured with the needs of the local community in mind, with a shift of emphasis into the community.

For example, Year 3 will consist of two Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships each of about 22 weeks on the Isle of Wight and in rural Hampshire. These include secondary care in outpatients in both community and acute hospitals and in-patient care. Some time spent in acute hospitals is envisaged, particularly for acute paediatrics, obstetrics and A&E. In this way, students experience the full range of patient problems, including dermatology, ENT, ophthalmology, usually covered in short rotations.

The University has already committed its own capital funds to transform part of its existing estate, adding to its world class simulation facilities recently recognised by an award of £2 million by the Office for Students to further build on this strength.

It is hoped the new Medical School building will be ready to open its doors in September 2023, at the same time as the project team is hoping to have reached GMC Stage 6, giving them permission to recruit students. UPMS will be ready to welcome students in September 2024.