Last Tuesday the Department for Health and Social Care, and Health Education England announced that it had approved the joint bid by the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University to create Kent’s first ever medical school. This new facility will bring together the existing centres at the two universities with our local healthcare organisations. This is excellent news; the scheme has my full support, along with our other MPs in Kent and the local councils.
Last autumn we wrote to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to support the case for a medical school in Kent. In that letter we stated that we know that medical students from London medical schools are deterred from doing clinical placements in Kent because of travel time, costs and distance from their ‘home’ school. Locating a medical school in Kent would give medical students from elsewhere the opportunity to become more familiar with the area and consider it when applying for jobs following graduation. It would enable young people and mature students living in Kent the opportunity to study medicine closer to home.
We know as well that recruitment is one of the biggest priorities for our local NHS. In the meetings I have had with the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group, which oversees the work of our local GPs, the creation of this new Kent and Medway Medical School was identified as a key priority. It will be an important part of our strategy to attract and train more new GPs and other medical professionals to the county. The new medical school will offer a model that starts in community and primary care with early clinical student placements from the first year covering GP surgeries, pharmacies, and local care centres. There will also be one hundred undergraduate places each year at the medical school, providing first-class medical education and research.
On Thursday last week I attended the re-opening of the Bay Tree bar and restaurant at the Burlington Hotel in Folkestone. This event marked the culmination of a £2million restoration of the hotel over the last three years, which has seen a major investment in its guest rooms and entertainment spaces. The new bar and restaurant are stunning and particular congratulations are due to the hotel Director, Daniel Sangiuseppe, who has personally overseen the project. The new look Burlington has also impressed the inspectors who have awarded it four stars, and Best Western have upgraded it to their ‘Plus’ category of ‘stylish and modern’ hotels.
After what seems likes many long months of winter, it is great to see a bit of spring sunshine, and with the clocks going forward, the start of the new season on the harbour arm in Folkestone. This provides not only the return of popular events, venues and attractions, but also a chance to further explore the newly restored areas of the former Harbour railway station.