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​New medical school places to target Welsh GP recruitment issues

The Welsh Government has announced plans to train doctors in North Wales, after concerns that the region was struggling to attract enough GPs.

Under a collaboration between the medical school at Cardiff University and Bangor University, 20 new medical places will be available from 2019.

Another 20 joint places between Swansea University Medical School and Aberystwyth University have been funded to expand medical education in the west of the country.

There had been repeated calls for a new medical school in North Wales but proposals were dismissed as being too costly and because it would take too long to set up.

Students in the new places will undertake as much of their studies as possible in community-based settings, which the Welsh Government said reflected their policy to deliver more care closer to home.

Health secretary Vaughan Gething said Welsh universities were working together to address the challenges in sustaining the medical workforce.

‘I have always been clear that, rather than creating a new medical school in North Wales, the best way to expand medical education there would be through collaboration.

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‘This means we will have students studying medicine in north Wales far quicker than we would ever see through the establishment of a new medical school.’

He added: ‘It is also important to acknowledge the challenges faced in other parts of Wales, especially in the west.

‘That is why we are increasing numbers at Swansea and supporting them to work with Aberystwyth University to ensure increased opportunities in west Wales.’

Bangor University vice-chancellor Professor John Hughes said: ‘This development, starting in 2019, will allow us to rapidly expand the medical education currently provided at Bangor University and introduce more medical students to north Wales, which will no doubt be of benefit to patients and the public in the region.’

Dr Rebecca Payne, RCGP Wales chair, said the announcement was an important step in the right direction.

‘It’s particularly pleasing to see the commitment to community-based settings.

‘This will allow doctors graduating in Wales to be confident working in the rural areas where they are needed most.

‘We look forward to many of these new doctors choosing general practice in the future.’