Portsmouth to begin training its own doctors

The University of Portsmouth has today agreed to work in partnership with King’s College London to deliver a medical degree. The aim is to educate more doctors in response to national shortages and in particular to help address the severe shortage of doctors in the city.

King’s four‐year Graduate Entry Medical programme usually accepts 23 students each year. This will be expanded to enrol a further 54 students in Autumn 2024 based at King’s branch campus in the new University of Portsmouth Medical School.

A 2022 Nuffield Trust analysis highlighted Portsmouth was one of the most challenged cities in Britain for GP shortages.

King’s, the University of Portsmouth, the region’s health trusts, GPs and partners have been working closely on the medical school project. Together, they aim to help reduce some of the pressures in primary and secondary care by providing a steady stream of new doctors. Medical schools historically bring wider benefits to the communities they serve by, for example, encouraging more doctors to stay in the area and to become involved with research and teaching.

The course will be open to honours‐degree biomedical life science graduates to study for a fast‐track degree in medicine in four, rather than five years.

The course will be delivered in Portsmouth, leading to a King’s Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree (MBBS) through the expertise of academics from both institutions. The course focuses on integrated medical science with clinical teaching, and on learning in close contact with patients. It builds on the successful partnership between both universities in the delivery of King’s undergraduate dental education.

Vice‐Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, Professor Graham Galbraith said:

“A medical school in our city is a long‐held vision for the University of Portsmouth. Our city does not have adequate numbers of GPs and the intention is that this development will contribute to reducing the waiting times local people experience in gaining access to services. The launch of our new graduate entry medical school will enable us to play our part in supporting the health of our community and we are thrilled to be working in partnership with King’s College London to deliver medical education that is unquestionably one of the best not just in Britain, but globally.”

Vice‐Chancellor & President of King’s College London, Professor Shitij Kapur, said:

“This exciting new partnership is an unprecedented opportunity for both institutions, combining King’s prestigious and well‐respected medical education with the University of Portsmouth’s expertise in rare diseases, genomics and neurology.

“This dynamic approach to education is part of our ambition to deliver service to society. By co‐creating a new medical school in Portsmouth, we will help to redress health disparities in the Portsmouth area and provide the next generation of doctors for the region.”

The University has a longstanding collaboration with Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), focusing on excellence in education, training, and innovation in healthcare for the benefit of our communities. A notable example of this successful partnership is the Portsmouth Technologies Trials Unit, acclaimed for its clinical research in healthcare technologies.

Students will have the opportunity to learn in academic and clinical settings including at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust’s Queen Alexandra Hospital, who will be the lead clinical partner for the new medical school, and with Southern, Solent and IoW NHS Trusts, the region’s GPs and all other regional healthcare bodies and partners.

Penny Emerit, Chief Executive at Portsmouth Hospitals University (PHU) NHS Trust, said:

“Looking for ways to improve access and the experience of our communities has always been important to us and this new medical school will play a big role in achieving that. We are proud of the part we play in the health and wellbeing of the people we care for, as well as being one of the largest employers in the city and hope to encourage students to stay in the area once they graduate.

“Creating opportunities for people to learn and develop locally is important for the future of staffing in the NHS and students will be able to do this alongside some of our incredibly innovative teams and partner organisations, whilst helping provide essential care for our communities. We will continue to work with the Universities and NHS England to deliver on this ambition and look forward to welcoming these new students to PHU.”

Professor Sherria Hoskins, Provost and sponsor of the project at the University of Portsmouth, said:

“This new medical school is a collective effort with both our longstanding partners King’s in dentistry and with all of our region’s health care bodies working at the sharp end of improving and safeguarding the health of people in our region.

“At the University, we have a history of opening doors to students who might not have otherwise considered it and the new medical school embraces the same ambition. This new partnership isn’t about just education; it’s a commitment to work together on research to inform medicine and healthcare regionally and globally.”

Dr Lara Alloway, Chief Medical Officer NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said:

“We are delighted about the new medical school. This is such an important step forward in helping to improve recruitment rates into medical roles, especially general practice locally. It’s a fantastic achievement for Portsmouth and we’re looking forward to supporting colleagues at this very exciting time.”

Dr Victoria Laakkonen, Interim Chief Medical Officer, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are extremely excited by the development of the Medical School at the University of Portsmouth and look forward to seeing students progress through it. With a shortage of doctors both locally and nationally it is really important we provide the spaces and opportunities for students who want to pursue a career in medicine and support our communities.”

Portsmouth’s health research focuses on better understanding the mechanisms underlying health and disease, developing and testing new health‐related technologies, promoting physical activity and rehabilitating those facing barriers to physical activity.

The branch campus forms part of the University of Portsmouth’s strategic vision to eventually open its own medical school. The branch campus arrangement means that medical students can be trained locally now while the plans for the University of Portsmouth medical school are progressed.