The new school, which aims to enrol its first students in autumn 2025, will train new doctors for Cumbria and North West England to transform healthcare in local communities.
Imperial’s medical school is one of the best in the world. This partnership aims to unite that strength with the University of Cumbria’s expertise in the education of nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to improve the region’s access to world-class clinical care.
The partnership is the result of a shared vision to educate more medical professionals to serve their local communities, in regions with the greatest need. The school will be situated in an area of England where the recruitment and retention of medical staff remains a significant challenge.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This partnership between Imperial College London and University of Cumbria will help level up opportunity and train more doctors in the North West.
“The new medical school supports our ambition to grow the workforce and already there are 1,500 more medical school places – a 25% increase – and five new medical schools across the country since 2017.
“Our doctors have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to care for us and our loved ones, and it is this dedication that is inspiring the next generation.”
University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell said: “In addition to attracting and retaining new doctors for Cumbria and North West England, the joint medical school will allow us to develop collaborative research programmes in areas such as health and social inequalities.
“The University of Cumbria was established to play a significant role in increasing higher education participation and addressing the higher-level education and skills needs of Cumbria and the region. This continues to drive us, and we look forward to working with colleagues at Imperial College London to realise a new medical school in North Cumbria.”
Professor Alice Gast, Imperial President, said: “This exciting new partnership between Imperial and the University of Cumbria presents an incredible opportunity to combine the resources and expertise of both our institutions to educate the doctors that are needed for Cumbria and the North West of England. Our shared vision is to also develop a range of local research programmes in these demographically different areas. I look forward to seeing this partnership flourish over the coming months and years"
Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Health, Environment & Innovation), the University of Cumbria’s strategic lead on the initiative said: “This significant partnership will enable us to expand our diverse health care portfolio to include medicine for the first time, and develop joint research programmes to address many of the county’s unique challenges.
“The new school’s location will have the dual benefit of opening up more opportunities to study medicine in the North West, and provide a steady stream of trained doctors for the region.”
Mr Martin Lupton, Vice Dean (Education), at Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine said: “Nearly 2,500 years ago Plato said that ‘The measure of a man is what they do with power’. The measure of a great UK institution is the positive impact it has on our national and international community.
“In order to help redress imbalances in social deprivation, health inequality and medical staff shortages across the country, the University of Cumbria and Imperial College London have committed to co-create a new medical school in Carlisle. Our two institutions are complementary, bringing their own unique set of attributes to the collaboration, and share a common mission to improve the health and well-being of the people of Cumbria and the North West through education and research.”
The new school aims to drive innovation in medical education, transforming the way medicine is taught and delivered. The development of a course specifically designed to meet the needs of the region will support medical education with a true community focus. Students will receive the best possible preparation for medical practice in the future NHS through inter-professional, community-based learning that harnesses local resources and the use of digital technologies.
A track record of excellence in medical education
The school will train forward-thinking doctors, through a specifically tailored course, delivered by a multi-professional team. Its graduates will be respectful and flexible doctors, able to apply scientific principles and clinical reasoning to Cumbria’s complex healthcare needs.
It will enhance clinical care in a range of healthcare settings in Cumbria and the North West of England by increasing the numbers of medical students, their educators, scientists, and new doctors in the region.
John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle commented on the plans for the new medical school hailing the wide ranging benefit to the region.
He said: “This is great news for Carlisle and the wider region, which has traditionally had difficulties recruiting and retaining much medical staff. A new medical school should go some way to addressing recruitment issues in our health service in Carlisle and more widely across Cumbria.
“It is fantastic that our local university is at the forefront of this initiative. With an emphasis on community, public and rural health and health and social inequalities it will be well placed to benefit our residents. I am pleased that our local NHS providers are also fully behind this proposal.”
Prof Mike Thomas, Chair, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: "We're delighted to be supporting the training of the doctors of tomorrow in Cumbria and are looking forward to welcoming the first students in 2025.
"It's exciting that we will be able to shape and be involved in their training."
Community healthcare focus
The school’s medical students will gain clinical experience through partnerships with local NHS providers across the region. A sustainable supply of medical professionals will benefit the local health and social care economy following the school’s establishment. It will educate and train generalist doctors who are grounded in the scientific method to deliver healthcare in community-based, rural, and disadvantaged settings where health and social inequalities are well documented.
By the time the students qualify they will be embedded into the local integrated care system, encouraging them to continue living and working in the region after graduation.
Professor Liz Hughes MBE, Deputy Medical Director (Undergraduate Education), Health Education England, said: “The most important resource the NHS has is its people and we are very pleased to be able to support development of these proposals that will create a new medical school helping to train more doctors. It is a great opportunity to work with the University of Cumbria and Imperial College London to help reduce health inequalities by better meeting local patient needs through delivery of high-quality clinical placements and improving access to the medical workforce in this area both now and in the future.”
In addition to the new medical school, the University of Cumbria and Imperial College London are also planning a range of local, collaborative research programmes in the North West and London.