University of Portsmouth aims to build new multi-million pound medical centre in plan to 'level up' city
AMBITIOUS proposals to create a new multimillion-pound medical school to train the next generation of city doctors are being drawn up by university leaders as part of a major strategy to ‘level up’ Portsmouth.
The state-of-the-art facility could cost ‘tens of millions of pounds’ and is in the early stages of planning, The News has been told.
It’s hoped the new health hub would revolutionise medical training in the city, attracting talented youngsters from deprived communities who ordinarily may not consider a career in medicine.
The concept was announced as the university unveiled a bold new alliance, uniting some of the city’s biggest players in industry, health, politics and business, as part of ‘civic partnership agreement’.
Professor Sherria Hoskins, executive dean of the faculty of science and health and civic lead, said: ‘Our overarching goal is levelling up; levelling up within the city and levelling up Portsmouth and the region with the rest of the UK.
‘Our ambition is about creating a different kind of medical school. It’s about creating a medical school for students who would never normally imagine that they want to be a doctor.
‘We’re doing this because we want to make a big difference to this region. We want to train doctors that are going to stay in this region and know about this region.’
The new partnership is being spearheaded by the university and aims to mobilise key institutions in the city to oversee large-scale projects and initiatives.
Among those involved include colleges, the Royal Navy, the city council, Portsmouth Football Club and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.
But major employers like BAE Systems and Airbus, as well as business leaders from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership are also on board.
The new alliance aims to tackle long-term educational inequality, provide and support initiatives to fill health and care gaps, as well as boosting the economy, promoting diversity and opening up university institutions to the public.
The university would also seek to use its environmental expertise to help slash pollution locally and support businesses to become carbon neutral.
Councillor Steve Pitt, Portsmouth’s culture boss, said: ‘We’re all working together to make the city better, more attractive and drive the cultural and creative offering in the tourism sector.
‘The university is intrinsically part of that. They have got a big role to play in lifting the whole city up as we move forward.’
Work has already launched ahead of the partnership going live.
Last year the university supported the Pompey Pirates after-school literacy programme, which saw about 70 children taking part in a reading club between September and December.
An impact report into the scheme revealed 69 per cent of pupils improved their reading age by seven months, with some increasing by two years during the brief stint of extra lessons.
Now, the university hopes to support a wider rollout of the initiative, set to resume in-person lessons at the Charles Dickens Activity Centre in Landport in September, in a bid to address gaps in education caused by the pandemic.
Prof Hoskins said she hoped to see two more centres joining, swelling numbers to more 240 children aged nine to 13 from some of the area’s most deprived wards.
‘We’ve never come together before in such a long-term, strategic way,’ she added. ‘This is going to be a real step change for the region.’
Ross McNally, chief executive of civic partnership signatory the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Portsmouth is a city region with global ambitions for its people, businesses and environment. To achieve success for our communities, a whole range of organisations need to work together to influence government, attract investment and leverage opportunities.
‘The university has a central role to play in this, both as a seat of learning and an employer active in voicing our regional needs and wishes.’
Other proposals will see the university encouraging the public to use its facilities, including the new Ravelin Sports Centre, set to open in September, and the creation of a community ‘hit squad’ to tackle grass-roots projects to improve the city.