Bolton College of Medical Sciences (BCMS), a pioneering joint venture between the University of Bolton, Bolton Council, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton College, has been awarded £20m in levelling up bid cash, it was announced by the Chancellor in today’s Budget (Weds October 27).
The news has been described as a “game-changer” for Bolton and comes after a bid for the Levelling Up Fund was submitted by Bolton Council and partners, supported by local MPs, earlier this year.
The state-of-the-art vocational and professional skills and training facility will transform how NHS and social care workforces are trained in the UK, alleviate staffing pressures and result in an improved level of care.
The BCMS, based in the grounds of the Royal Bolton Hospital, will train a new generation of health and social care professionals.
Once open, it will give people a direct route into health and social care employment, and provide unrivalled training opportunities for existing hospital staff to upskill and further their careers.
Professor George E Holmes DL, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said:
“This is an historic moment for our town and the University.
“This announcement means more than levelling up, it provides a springboard to an entirely different level in Bolton, which will provide high level professional medical careers for generations to come.
“It really is a game-changer and we are delighted by the news. It also takes the University to a whole new level in terms of training in medicine – all the more important in the context of the strains the NHS faces after the past 20 months of the pandemic.
“Bolton College of Medical Sciences marks a new era of healthcare skills and training and we are tremendously grateful to the council for supporting this bid.”
Bolton Council Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said:
“Levelling Up is not just about infrastructure, it is also about improving skills and creating opportunities.
“The council is committed to bringing prosperity and quality employment into the borough and this announcement marks a huge step towards achieving this.
“The last year has shown just how vital our health and social care staff are, and I’m delighted that Bolton will now play a key role in training the workforce of the future.
“There were a number of potential bids under consideration, but we worked closely with the University, the Foundation Trust and our local MPs to prioritise this project and secure a major investment for Bolton.”
Fiona Noden, Chief Executive of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled by the news that we’re receiving the funding to support the development of the Bolton College of Medical Sciences, this is a fantastic opportunity for the people of Bolton.
“I’m really proud that through our established partnership working we will be training and developing the future, and existing workforce, of Bolton healthcare right here on the hospital site.”
BCMS is understood to be the first of its kind in the UK, due to its new model of partnership, a unique teaching and learning environment, and combination of training provision across disciplines, professions and agencies.
It will focus on learning within a healthcare culture, with practical training within simulated hospital environments.
It will be able to teach 3,000 students a year, with around 1,000 apprentices in a range of health and social care roles.
Planning permission was agreed by councillors in 2019, who gave the go-ahead for the designs, which include a teaching and learning space, café, an associated staff and service space, and a dedicated multi-story car park.
When open, the facility is expected to bring £150m to the local economy, and it is hoped that it will welcome its first intake in early 2023.