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HRH The Duke of Kent opens £8.5m Milton Keynes University Hospital Academic Centre

22 February 2018

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent officially opened a £8.5m state-of-the-art Academic Centre on Tuesday (20 February) which cements a partnership between the University of Buckingham and Milton Keynes University Hospital and which will provide an outstanding resource for medical education and training for students, doctors, nurses and health professionals.

Facilities in the pioneering building include a simulated operating theatre and video link showing live procedures taking place in the hospital’s operating theatres, working replicas of clinical wards and a 200-seat lecture with capacity to stream lectures throughout the building. There is also a “hanging auditorium” – a lecture theatre that juts out on all sides halfway up the building with glass walls.

The building includes a £2m grant from SEMLEP, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the Local Growth Fund initiative.

The University of Buckingham Medical School Academic Centre is a pioneering venture that takes its cues from the advanced technology-based learning provision in US medical training schools and is a purpose-built academic centre within the hospital grounds where, unusually for medical school courses, students will work with real patients from day one of their course.

As well as being able to simulate operations there is streaming capability for live transmission in the building or anywhere in the world, which will enable students’ clinical practice and demonstrations from teaching clinicians to be watched live within the building or shared further afield. Students can practice advanced procedures on life-like medical mannequins, which will allow them to see real human responses without any risk to human wellbeing.  Construction of the building began in 2016 and finished in winter 2017.

John Clapham, Pro Vice-Chancellor Health Sciences, University of Buckingham, added: “As the intake grows  a new riverside site has been prepared for a new medical school building at Buckingham.  This will allow the numbers of students to expand without diluting the quality of the learning experience. Plans are in place to also develop a dental school and a school of podiatry, sharing many of the resources that have already been developed. Much more is planned to put both the Hospital and the University at the forefront of medical research for the benefit of patients.”

Milton Keynes Hospital Trust CEO Joe Harrison said: “This is a brilliant building in which we can train the next generations of clinicians. The NHS is under immense pressure to deal with ever-increasing demand from a growing population. In many ways we are victims of our own success, helping people to live longer and more fulfilling lives with complex conditions. The chance to train and retain more clinicians, and recruit more using the pull of this academic centre, will help us to better meet the needs of local people and continue to provide excellent care in years to come.”

Hilary Chipping, SEMLEP’s Acting CEO said: “SEMLEP was pleased to provide £2m of Local Growth Fund to support this project. This innovative hospital teaching facility will be a great resource for Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands attracting doctors to the city to meet the needs of the growing population at the centre of the Oxford to Cambridge Corridor. We will continue to work with the University of Buckingham to monitor the full impact of this exciting new facility.”

Guests at the official opening included CEO, MKUH   Professor Joe Harrison, University of Buckingham Vice-Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon, MP Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster MP Milton Keynes South Ian Stewart, Lord Lieutenant Buckinghamshire Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, High Sheriff, Buckinghamshire Peter Kara, CEO MK Council Carole Mills, SEMLEP Employer and Skills Manager Paul Thompson, Mayor Milton Keynes David Hopkins and Buckingham Mayor Jon Harvey.

Traditionally the training of doctors in the UK has been supported by public sector partnerships between state-funded universities and NHS hospitals. However, this is a private and public sector partnership that draws on the experience, resources and established clinical models of the NHS at Milton Keynes Hospital to provide practical training and clinical tuition for the University of Buckingham’s medical students. Medical courses at Buckingham are completed in a 4.5 year MB ChB programme due to reduced holiday time. The University of Buckingham was the first independent medical school in the country when it opened its doors in 2015.

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