St. George’s University (SGU) and Health Education England (HEE) have reached agreement on a new programme to fill postgraduate medical training programmes in the United Kingdom.
A major challenge facing the world’s health care system is the shortage of nurses and doctors.
It is this situation which leads to medical institutions such as HEE to enter into partnerships with medical universities to recruit overseas postgraduate medical training through the widening Access to Speciality training (WAST) programme, which is part of England’s National Health Service (NHS).
SGU has entered into an agreement with HEE becoming the first medical school in the Caribbean to do so.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between President of SGU, Dr. Richards Olds and Chief Executive of HEE during a ceremony held last week Thursday in St. George’s to pave the way for 50 to 100 graduates from the Grenada-based school to access postgraduate medical training in England.
Sixteen SGU graduates are expected to begin WAST in the next seven months, and with many more in the application process.
Graduates will undertake one or two post-graduate foundation years, depending on prior experience, followed by entry into specialty training.
This postgraduate training is recognised for licensure and given credit in the UK, European Union, and other Commonwealth countries.
According to Chief Executive of HEE, Professor Ian Cumming, “Our role is to ensure the health workforce in England can meet the challenges faced by the NHS, which includes the provision of services in underserved areas”.
“We are very impressed that graduates provided by SGU are of the high standard demanded by the NHS, I look forward to the first intake arriving in 2018”, he said.
“This agreement highlights the increasingly important role played by SGU as an international institution in global health care,” remarked SGU’s Dr Olds.
According to the SGU President, the university’s extensive network of partner universities and teaching hospitals around the world, including England “ensures our students receive a comprehensive education in a range of clinical environments”.
“This is reflected in the fact that we are the only Caribbean medical school to enter into an agreement with HEE, enabling our graduates to apply for the WAST programme. England has one of the most stringent regulatory frameworks in the world, and that our graduates now have this opportunity is reflective of their calibre”, he said.
“We are delighted that this major development has taken place in the 70th anniversary year of the NHS,” he added.
With intakes in February and August each year, most successful applicants will join a one-year post-graduate foundation clinical course in England, where they will hopefully improve the skills and competencies required for admission to specialty training.
The programme will typically consist of six months of psychiatry training followed by six months in an acute hospital setting.
Upon completing the programme, graduates will be eligible to apply for an Alternative Certificate of Foundation Competencies, after which they can apply for a three-year programme of specialty training in England.
The location of training for those on the WAST programme will be assigned by HEE, with most programmes focusing on areas of acute shortage, predominantly in the Midlands, East, North and South West of England, Yorkshire, and the Humber.
Dr Olds said that one of the central aims of SGU “is to find ways to train doctors in the areas they are needed most”.
“The global shortage of medical professionals is exacerbated by maldistribution, both by geography and specialty. This agreement, which will encourage our graduates to train in family medicine and psychiatry in areas of England with the greatest need, is one example of how we are making a significant positive impact around the world,” he added.
The signing ceremony for the SGU/HEE agreement was witnessed by Health Minister Nickolas Steele, as well as officials of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development and Religious Affairs with responsibility for Tertiary Education, Skills Development and Education Outreach.