Preston's university has been served a prescription to officially award degrees to the next generation of medics.
After passing gruelling tests, the University of Central Lancashire's School of Medicine has been give degree-awarding powers by the General Medical Council (GMC).
The decision follows five years of strict quality assurance tests and now means that the School of Medicine has been added to the GMC’s website listing of institutions approved to award a primary medical qualification - with the first 27 students from the Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme hoping to graduate this summer and all 27 are planning to live and work in the UK.
It also marks a important milestone in the development of UCLan’s School of Medicine, which opened in 2015 with a small group of full fee-paying international students.
Since then it has soared with more than 1,000 UK and international students studying on a range of programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Professor Cathy Jackson, head of UCLan’s School of Medicine, was delighted with the official endorsement and said: "Receiving the seal of approval from the GMC for our MBBS programme is fantastic news.
"Colleagues in the school have worked incredibly hard to make this happen while the support we’ve received from partner organisations such as North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has been crucial.
She added: "We have achieved something truly unique by developing the first brand new medical curriculum in many years where our students benefit from patient contact within the second week of the programme. Over 70 percent of our UK student doctors are from widening access backgrounds and we have trained them not only to be knowledgeable, empathetic and reflective but to accurately represent the populations they will serve.
“We’ve gone from an intake of 35 students a year to 150, developed a comprehensive postgraduate portfolio, opened the very successful National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine and we’ve done it all in five years."
UCLan’s Professor StJohn Crean, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), played a key role in the early development and launch of the MBBS programme. He added: “Gaining GMC approval is, quite appropriately, a rigorous and lengthy process but we are delighted that our medical programme has met these stringent requirements.
“Building on our expertise in educating a wide range of healthcare professionals, our MBBS programme will help to ensure our region can meet the workforce needs of the healthcare models of the future.”
Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s medical director and director of education and standards, said: "The GMC has high standards and a very rigorous process before a new medical school can be approved to award primary medical qualifications to its students. UCLan has worked hard, over a number of years, to meet our quality assurance standards.
"It is as a result of that hard work that it has now achieved this status, and so from this summer UCLan’s medical school graduates will be added to our register and be able to join the UK’s medical workforce."
UCLan is the largest provider of health and social care education in Lancashire and Cumbria and is one of only five universities in the country delivering medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, complemented by a wide-range of other health-related subjects such as nursing, midwifery and paramedic practice.
The UCLan MBBS programme builds on UCLan’s success in dentistry, nursing and pharmacy courses, representing a crucial part of the overall solution to fill the urgent skills gap that currently exists in areas such as East Lancashire and West Cumbria.