Medical School backed by business figures

Aston Medical School Business Backing

4 July 2014

Plans to develop a new medical school for Birmingham, which will support local trainee doctors with Scholarships, have received high profile backing from business leaders. 

West Midlands High Sheriff, Tim Watts, and Sir Doug Ellis OBE, Aston Villa Football Club’s President Emeritus, are backing Aston Medical School (AMS) and its associated Medical Scholarships. 

Aston University’s Medical School will cater for 100 students in total each year. In particular, it will include 20 Scholarships to specifically train and support a new generation of trainee doctors from ‘hard to reach’ communities in Birmingham and the West Midlands region. 

Five of the available 20 Scholarships will specifically be funded by philanthropy through Aston’s ’50 50’ Scholarship Campaign. Designed to coincide with Aston University’s 50th anniversary as a University in 2016, it will create five scholarships a year for the next ten years. Donations and support from Tim Watts and Sir Doug Ellis have raised over £250,000, enough to fund two initial Scholarships.   

The remaining 80 places will be open to international students, which will in-turn, also help fund individual scholarships for the region and financial assistance programmes. 

Tim Watts, High Sheriff of the West Midlands and Lifetime President of Pertemps Network Group, believes a new Medical School will create a real legacy and bring significant health benefits to the region. 

He said: "I’m delighted to be able to support the ’50-50’ campaign with a £50,000 donation. I have made it my aim to shine a light on the innovations that make this region stand out and few projects are as ground-breaking as the launch of Aston Medical School. Not only is this a huge boost for students from hard to reach communities, but it will also create local doctors for the local area; improving the health and well-being of communities." 

Sir Doug Ellis OBE said the new Medical School would undoubtedly lead to better social mobility and opportunities within Birmingham and beyond. He said:  “Aston University and the West Midlands region have always been very close to my heart; I’ve lived and worked in and around Birmingham since 1948 and I can think of no better legacy than to be associated with a new Medical School within the City. The scholarships on offer are very exciting and will undoubtedly provide real benefit for the wider community. I am pleased to support such an exciting project and would encourage others to follow my example.” 

The School, planned to open in autumn 2017 on Aston University’s Birmingham City Centre campus, will also include a research institute focused on vascular disease. In particular, areas concerning women’s health such as pre-natal conditions and problems during pregnancy; mental health, and complications brought on by age-related illness. 

Trainee doctors will study for five years, and qualify with an MBChB degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science) and a ‘mini’ business MBA, providing clinical and business training. 

Aston Medical School’s pioneering focus on both health and social mobility has galvanised considerable support from local health organisations, international medical leaders and medical bodies. Regionally the proposals are supported by the Boards of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust; Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust;   Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group; Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. 

Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health at Aston University, who is leading the project for Aston, said the ethos behind the School is to create local doctors from Birmingham and the Black Country who in turn can benefit the region’s future health outlook. 

He said: “We are extremely delighted that Sir Doug Ellis and Dr Tim Watts are among those to already have pledged their support to Aston’s ‘50-50’ scholarship campaign and their support will help to fund two of our first five scholarships for our first intake. Research shows that medical schools have the ability to improve health outcomes in the communities in which they are founded. Currently Birmingham only has one medical school in comparison to six medical schools based in London. Thanks to the generosity of people like Sir Doug and Tim, Birmingham will soon have another medical school after 190 years. At AMS, we want to create local doctors for the region at low cost to the public purse and address the region’s serious health inequalities. As Birmingham has the youngestpopulation in Europe, AMS aims to harness this potential energy to tackle social mobility, infant mortality and engage and educate from hard-to-reach communities our future doctors.”    

The Aston Medical School will build upon Aston University’s pioneering health research, including optometry, age related illnesses such as dementia and chronic diseases including diabetes. The University is also home to the Aston Brain Centre, which specialises in epilepsy, dyslexia, autism, ADHD and sleeping disorders. It provides a referral service for the National Health Service and houses a brain scanner specifically designed for children, one of only three in the world. 

-Ends- 

Notes to editors: 

Aston University’s ‘50-50’ Scholarship Campaign

The ’50-50’ campaign, designed to coincide with Aston’s 50th year as a University in 2016 will fund five Aston Medical scholarships a year for the next ten years. This will provide an additional 50 philanthropically funded doctors for the local Birmingham community. The support from Tim Watts and Sir Doug Ellis will fund two scholarships towards five scholarships in total for the first Aston Medical School intake in 2017. 

Aston Medical School

The Aston Medical School will be based in Aston University’s existing Nelson Building –currently home of Aston Business School on Aston’s Birmingham City Centre Campus. Aston Business School will move to existing buildings on Aston’s campus –formally occupied by Birmingham City University’s (BCU) Faculty of Arts, before BCU’s move to Eastside. Aston Students’ Union will also relocate to former BCU premises on Campus – bringing currently unoccupied buildings back into use. 

Support for Aston Medical School from regional health and clinician boards. 

Dr Mark Newbold, Chief Executive of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very pleased indeed to be a partner in this truly exciting development for Birmingham. A second medical school for the second city will bring more leading edge expertise and health research into the area, and provide real benefit to people in the City with poorer health outcomes. The Trust looks forward to working with Aston University and other partners to support local students to train as doctors and contribute to improving health in our communities.” 

Toby Lewis, Chief Executive, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said:  "We welcome this ambitious plan to expand access to medical training to local children from the communities that we serve.  We look forward to working with Aston University and others to build on our existing tradition of excellence in medical education.”Dr Nick Harding, Chair of the Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This partnership offers a unique and ground-breaking opportunity for local students who would otherwise not have the funding or financial capability to pursue a career in medicine. This benefits the students themselves as clinicians of the future, and also supports the local area through research to improve local outcomes.” 

John Short, Chief Executive of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Birmingham is a city of tremendous vitality and diversity and we are very pleased to support the development of a second medical school in the City.  This development offers the opportunity to attract new and exciting local people into the medical profession, deliver new areas medical expertise and research focus and provide further opportunities to improve the health of our many communities.” 

For further media information please contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549 or a.earnshaw@aston.ac.uk