18 February 2013 12:18

The opening of a £7.5 million, newly-refurbished Lancaster University building will further develop and improve health care services for the local community.

On Friday Chief Executive of Health Education England Professor Ian Cumming made a return visit to Lancaster to officially open the University’s new-look Faculty of Health and Medicine Furness Building.

Professor Cumming, a former CEO of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, played a key role in developing the early vision for the new developments in Health and Medicine.

The new building will bring together all the elements - expertise, knowledge transfer and research - needed to generate high quality academic and clinical activity both now and in the future.

The opening ceremony was significant as, for the first time, the Medical School, Biomedical and Life Sciences, Health Research and the Centre for Training and Development are now under one roof. Teaching facilities, the main lecture theatre and biomedical research laboratories are now closer to the main hub.

Professor John Goodacre, the Co-Director of the Faculty’s Collaborative Partnerships initiative, said: “The Faculty now provides the major focus for driving teaching and research in health and medicine in this part of the country. This enables us to connect the whole university with the health agenda and the local population can benefit from being at the leading edge of new treatments, devices and ways of working.

“This new environment encourages people from different disciplines to come together - critical to medical advances. The impact is not just professional and ‘good’ for the university - it actually translates into best care and facilities. We want to be recognised as a centre of excellence for teaching and research and to have something that relates to local health issues and needs.”

Professor Goodacre said the Faculty’s ‘Knowledge Exchange’ project, which enabled university expertise to collaborate in research and to provide skills and expertise to health services and the NHS, enabled two-way collaborations.

“It means people in the university with ideas who need to check and test in NHS settings can be facilitated and NHS people with ideas relevant to their people and practice can bring them to the university,” explained Professor Goodacre.

“Whatever we do then has relevance and because local people are involved in driving it, it will attract interest and uptake. This adds up to a big step change, not only with the academic aspects of health and medicine, but in driving up the quality of health and care so patients feel they are going to places that are working at the leading edge.”

Head of Lancaster Medical School Professor Anne Garden said bringing together all elements of health and medicine teaching and research under one roof would provide a cross-fertilisation of ideas which was key to further improving the quality of the Medical School’s programme.

To run the best health care and give the best service it was, she added, critical to have high quality teaching and research to underpin the service.

The arrival of the medical school in 2006 had been a significant advantage in delivering and attracting the best to the region as it involved the university in the teaching and research agenda. It had also attracted good students who had then stayed in the region.