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Joint bid to be made for a Gloucestershire Health University Technical College (UTC)

The University of Gloucestershire, the NHS Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust and the MP for Gloucester, Richard Graham, today announce that a bid will be submitted in October to the Baker Dearing Trust for a new Gloucestershire Health University Technical College (UTC) based within the campus of the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in Gloucester.

The bid reflects the vital importance and size of the health sector in our county – almost 50,000 jobs in Gloucestershire – and recognition that there isn’t enough training for the skills needed at the moment in the county.

“Much needs to be done to address this”, said Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Dr Frank Harsent, “and a UTC focused on health futures, with work experience in a variety of different institutions and roles, will make a huge difference both to recruitment and individual opportunities.”

MP Richard Graham has led discussions exploring the potential for a Health UTC since hearing from Lord (Ken) Baker, Chairman of the Baker Dearing Trust, about the new West Bromwich Health Futures UTC. MP Richard Graham said: “I thought there was enormous potential for a UTC based in Gloucester, close to the city centre transport links, so that students could come from all over the county,” said Richard, “and although moving school at 14 is still new to us in the UK it has been successful in Germany for a long time. The key was how employers and the university saw this.”

University of Gloucestershire Vice-Chancellor Stephen Marston said: “The University of Gloucestershire is committed to supporting excellent public services in Gloucestershire. Many of our university programmes are designed to give students the skills and qualifications they need to work in our great public services – education, health, social work, policing and others. Given the importance of the health service, we are keen to work with the Hospitals Trust and other NHS partners to help ensure they can recruit the staff they need to provide excellent patient care, particularly through increasing the supply of qualified nurses. Sponsoring a University Technical College in Gloucester with a focus on health therefore fits well with our wider goals. A UTC could provide a great way of enabling 14-18 year olds to gain both an excellent education and a wider experience that gives them a foundation for the many rewarding jobs that are available in the health service. So the university is happy to play a leading role in pulling together a bid to form a UTC. It is still early days, and there is a lot of work ahead, but we will be working closely with a wide variety of partners to develop a strong proposal in the interests of young people, the health service and the broader community in Gloucester and Gloucestershire.”

Dr Harsent said the GRH was the right site for a Health UTC. “We have the space, and if the bid is successful the capital expenditure is provided by the Baker Dearing Trust. This would be the best possible investment in people and health and the Hospitals Trust board has approved the concept. I will give it my personal maximum support as a member of the university board after I have retired from the NHS.”

Baker Dearing Chairman Lord Baker said: “I welcome the enthusiasm from Gloucester that Richard has brought together and believe this is exactly the sort of need your county should be addressing and where a UTC can make a big difference. We look forward to a strong bid.”

Councillor Paul McLain, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People on the Gloucestershire County Council, commented: “This is an exciting and innovative proposal that meets a real need in our education system. It’s got the potential to make a massive difference, not just locally, but regionally and nationally, as well as supporting regeneration in Gloucester.”

West Bromwich Health Futures Principal Rob Fell said: “Having met everyone involved in the discussions and sharing my experience of opening and running a Health Futures UTC, where we are already oversubscribed, I would say this has every chance of being a compelling bid.”

Richard Graham summarised the situation: “We’ve done some research, and the key players have decided the case is strong enough to make a bid. There is a long way to go but this is potentially an incredibly exciting educational development for the health sector in our county. It should lead to many more opportunities for Gloucestershire young to work in health, it should help reduce our need to import health workers from abroad and I hope many in our city and county will welcome the bid.”

Mary Hutton, Accountable Officer at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Workforce development is really important for the future sustainability of our health system. The CCG is working actively to support the education and training needs of our healthcare workforce, and to develop, recruit and retain qualified staff. We are pleased to support this exciting initiative which will help us develop a skilled workforce, enabling us to continue to provide high quality care to people living in Gloucestershire.”

Paul Jennings, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust said: “I fully support this proposal for Gloucestershire. The UTC could give young people an early career focus in health by combining academic study with real-life work projects, helping them to become well-rounded work-ready individuals. The healthcare sector needs to attract more professionals to make it a sustainable service for future generations. I look forward to working with local partner organisations to help make sure we develop a strong and compelling bid.”

Tola Opaleye, Manager of Gloucester Dental Care, said: “The positive responses to the bid are very encouraging. I have a strong feeling that this can be done!”