The University of Chester is considering opening an undergraduate medical school.

A statement from the university does not mention the possible location although it is rumoured West Cheshire College’s under-threat Handbridge campus is being targeted.

Health is already a major focus of the University of Chester’s work.

It trains and provides continuing professional development to many of the area’s nurses, midwives and social workers and increasingly to doctors and other healthcare professionals.

And the university’s Thornton Science Park is helping to address national skills shortages, for example, in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM) careers.

Thornton Science Park

Its existing Institute of Medicine delivers a range of postgraduate MSc and doctoral programmes to provide specialist education for qualified doctors and healthcare professionals.

These courses are delivered across Cheshire and Shropshire, including from the institute’s base at Bache Hall by the Countess of Chester Hospital.

The institute is currently developing a new undergraduate medical curriculum as well as the structures to allow the establishment of a new medical school.

A spokeswoman said: “The University of Chester has a strong and well-established background in providing higher education for public services and the professions. These already include courses in health, clinical sciences, biomedical sciences and social care.”

She added: “The university is currently exploring whether, and if so how, it could develop its existing recognised strengths in these areas. As part of that analysis, it has established a Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Clinical Science, of which the Institute of Medicine forms part.

Medical school is one possible option

"An undergraduate medical school may possibly be one logical progression for the university, but there are a number of significant considerations before this could happen.”

The university also offers an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science, together with a research master’s degree in medical science, in conjunction with the Countess.

Postgraduate programmes are delivered in Endodontology (treatment to save teeth through, for example, root canal surgery) and there are postgraduate and undergraduate degree courses in human nutrition. Medical biochemistry is offered as an undergraduate degree at sister organisation, University Centre Shrewsbury.