Welsh Government Ministers officially opened Merthyr’s new Academic Centre on the Keir Hardie University Health Park site earlier today.
The new £2.8m facility will support between 60 and 90 medical students each week from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine with a strong emphasis on community medicine and direct patient contact.
Following a tour of the impressive state-of-the building, both Ministers’ expressed their pleasure with the facilities. Health Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “Education and workforce planning are fundamental to ensuring we have the right people with the right skills in the right places to continue to deliver top class services to Welsh patients. People living locally and further afield will benefit from this new partnership and the expertise this development will bring to Wales.”
Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills added: “The opening of this state-of-the-art Academic Centre underlines our commitment to investing in medical education. Indeed, our total investment in health education and training now exceeds £350m annually.
“We believe that it is important that universities are rooted in the communities they serve. This new facility is not only great news for medical students and others who will learn and train here but also for the local area. This centre brings state-of-the-art undergraduate healthcare professional education right to the heart of the community in Merthyr Tydfil.”
The facility has been built in response to the University’s proposal to establish a teaching and research base for undergraduate medical trainees in Merthyr Tydfil as part of a wider network of community-based teaching hubs.
The implementation of the C21 curriculum by Cardiff University for medical students involves a new approach, with greater emphasis on theoretical learning combined with hands-on experience of the care settings around Merthyr Tydfil and the Cynon Valley.
Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Ruth Hussey said that she was “delighted to see the fantastic facilities for teaching the next generation of health professionals in the heart of the Merthyr community.”
The opening was also attended by Professor Sir Mansel Aylward who was overjoyed to learn that a suite of rooms had been dedicated to him. Professor Sir Mansel said: “I think that today has realised part of a dream that I have had for delivering excellent and quality health care in Merthyr Tydfil. Today we saw the launch of the Academic Centre which is a unique offering by Wales to involve health care students in the community setting earlier in their undergraduate careers.
“This is a major step forward and, of course, I am both pleasantly surprised and highly honoured that a suite in the Academic Centre has been named after me.”
The centre opened its doors to medical students on January 8th and the first student through the door was 19 year old Helena Colling Sylvester. Having used the facilities for the last few weeks, Helena said: “I think it is wonderful that it can go from a mock GP surgery to a mock ward and I think it reflects how revolutionary C21 is as a course.”
Merthyr’s Sir Stanley Thomas, OBE said that he was so impressed with the facilities he had already committed to making a substantial contribution to Phase 3.
Dr Christopher Jones, Chairman of Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “Cwm Taf University Health Board have joined forces with Cardiff Medical School and together are leading the way in training the young doctors of the future at the Keir Hardie Academic Centre.
“This teaching facility reaches out to medical students in the first two years of their medical training.
“It opens a window for them to experience in their formative years the needs, values and joy of serving our Welsh valley communities.
“I can think of nowhere more stimulating or more rewarding than primary and community care delivered from the iconic Keir Hardie University Health Park based in the heart of the community of Merthyr Tydfil. It is a place rich in learning and opportunity.”