The University of Portsmouth’s plans for a new medical school to help address the shortage of doctors have taken another step forward with the appointment of key team members
Professor John Cookson, an internationally-respected figure in medical education, is Dean of the Medical School Development. He is responsible for, among other things, building Portsmouth’s bid for General Medical Council approval.
Portsmouth is soon to submit the next stage of a multi-stage bid. If successful in the multi-stage process, Portsmouth could start training medics as soon as September 2024.
Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight are among the worst served regions in England for GPs. Professor Cookson, a retired consultant physician in general and respiratory medicine, was the Development Dean for Worcester’s new School of Medicine which last August was given the government go ahead to recruit its first students.
He was previously Foundation Professor and then Director of Medical Education at Hull York Medical School, and Director of Clinical Studies at the Leicester Warwick Medical School. He was also involved in the establishment of a new medical school in Botswana.
His early career included lecturing in medicine in Zimbabwe, which led to his research on asthma in the black population. He was one of the first to demonstrate the comparative rarity of asthma in children in Africa.
Professor Cookson's lifetime’s work has been to ensure high quality medical education, including travelling widely to study other methods of medical training, and in ensuring high-quality student clinical placements, supporting junior medical staff training and forging partnerships with NHS colleagues.
He has a special interest in medical education curriculum design and assessment.
Other members of the development team include:
- John Persson, Project Director, with oversight of the university’s preparation to launch a medical school.
- Dr Donna Glyde, Primary Care Clinical Champion, a Portsmouth GP and Clinical Lead for local GP education.
- Professor Peter Brennan, Secondary Care Clinical Champion, Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust and Elected Council Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
- Dr Theresa Martin, Clinical Programme Developer, Medical educator.
The university’s plan to launch a new medical school would make it the 38th medical school in the UK.
Portsmouth’s ‘colours’ as a centre of excellence for widening participation, mean it is likely any Portsmouth medical school would include a strong emphasis on training future medics who have come through alternative routes, including graduate entry, and not just for those who have earned three As at A-level.
Most students would be recruited from across the region, to help ensure a large number of them would be more likely to stay in the region, including on the Isle of Wight, after qualifying.
Bid leader Professor Sherria Hoskins, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health, is a passionate advocate for opening the door to medicine wider than any other British medical school, and although graduates could choose to specialise in any branch of medicine following foundation training, Portsmouth aims to shine a spotlight on primary care to help the region address its serious GP shortfall.
She said: “The university’s medical school bid faces a long march before launching, but we are moving heaven and earth to be ready for when the government issues a call to universities to open new medical schools.
“If we are successful, Portsmouth will be able to improve healthcare in our region, which has significant health deprivation and a serious shortage of doctors, compounding the health inequalities.
“The University of Portsmouth has always been passionate about raising aspirations and about our region, and a medical school dovetails beautifully with our vision.
“We are already home to a wide suite of healthcare related courses, from nursing and paramedic science to dental and social care. A medical school would be the logical next step both for us as an institution, and for our region.”
*A study last October found Portsmouth to be among the worst places in England for GP provision, with 2,559 people per GP, compared to 1,614 people per GP in Liverpool.