Medicine comes home to St Andrews

Tuesday 26 March 2024
Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE (left), Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews, and NHS Fife Chief Executive Carol Potter sign the Memorandum of Understanding

A major new partnership between the University of St Andrews and NHS Fife will benefit patient care and medical research in the Kingdom of Fife, while boosting Scotland’s overall training provision for new doctors.

The new partnership, confirmed today (Tuesday 26 March) by NHS Fife and University leaders, follows a key decision by the Scottish Parliament in 2021 to remove a historic prohibition that had prevented St Andrews from awarding its own medical qualifications.

For years, St Andrews medical students had to leave Fife to undertake their clinical training elsewhere in the UK, under the supervision of other medical schools.

Now, students choosing to study medicine at Scotland’s top university will be able to do all their clinical training and complete their primary medical qualification in Fife.

Approval for the new St Andrews five-year medical degree came from the General Medical Council earlier this month, and both institutions have moved quickly to cement a partnership expected to bring a raft of benefits to healthcare and health services across the Kingdom.

The new partnership agreement between NHS Fife and the University of St Andrews will enhance education and training capacity, grow research capability, and provide a platform to enable delivery of new advances in healthcare, innovative discoveries, techniques and medications, resulting in better services and outcomes for patients throughout Fife.

Students will undertake their medical training with clinical teams across NHS Fife in a range of healthcare settings, including a network of healthcare innovation hubs within Fife’s community hospitals. The development of the medical programme will also see Fife move towards its goal of being recognised with teaching board status.

In addition to improving clinical teaching and research, the new partnership will also see NHS Fife work collaboratively with the University across a range of other areas, including environmental sustainability, the mutual use of estates and buildings, and a joint effort to help reduce ill-health and inequality within our local population.

Commenting on the historic agreement between St Andrews and NHS Fife, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “The NHS is a great source of national pride. To educate and graduate the next generation of medical professionals is a testament to our commitment to playing an active role in securing its future for generations to come.

“The opportunity to learn in the communities in which we live, teach and work is what sets our new five-year medical degree programme apart. Unrivalled patient access across a variety of clinical and community health settings means our graduates will be among the very best prepared as they begin their medical career.

“With today’s historic agreement, we continue to strengthen our partnership with NHS colleagues here in Fife and cement our commitment across the sector with NHS Education for Scotland.

“Many of our leading researchers from the School of Medicine have dual clinical roles within NHS Fife; the new partnership will allow the School significantly to expand its pool of medical professionals in Fife, attract more top-tier researchers to the area, and graduate more medical professionals to support our under-served communities.

“Through continued partnership and close working with our NHS partners, we will support the national effort to improve health outcomes across the country.”

NHS Fife Chief Executive, Carol Potter, welcomed the new partnership, commenting: “NHS Fife places great value in its long-standing relationship with the University of St Andrews and today’s signing marks a new chapter, providing considerable benefits for both institutions, our staff and for medical students.

“This new partnership agreement will also benefit patients across Fife and expand medical research opportunities.

“NHS Fife is proud of its reputation as one of the country’s most innovative health boards, and the status of teaching hospital will also help us to retain, train and recruit the next generation of doctors at a time when medical recruitment is more competitive than ever before.”

Medicine at St Andrews offers undergraduates the opportunity to develop their skills in a variety of settings from community hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, and local community healthcare environments to patients’ homes, giving St Andrews medical students unparalleled patient access throughout their degree. This unique approach places St Andrews and Fife among the very best and most innovative in clinical medical training in the UK.

The partnership agreement between NHS Fife and the University creates an opportunity to harness the strengths and expertise of both organisations in the clinical training and development of current and future medical professionals. The partnership will strengthen existing teaching and clinical practitioner roles within both organisations, with key teaching staff also delivering NHS clinical services across Fife, strengthening healthcare provision throughout the Kingdom.

From left: Professor David Crossman, Dean of Medicine, University of St Andrews, Carol Potter, NHS Fife Chief Executive, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE, St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Dr Chris McKenna, Medical Director, NHS Fife

Commenting on the return of medicine to St Andrews, Professor David Crossman, Dean of Medicine at the University, said: “St Andrews is once again at the forefront of clinical medicine teaching, reaffirming our position as one of the country’s top medical schools.

Our modern clinical School, coupled with our unique community-focused degree programme places us among the very best and most innovative in the UK. At St Andrews we offer not only a top level clinical medical degree alongside the standard in-hospital training, but also unparalleled community-based patient access throughout the five-year programme.

“I am also delighted to continue to grow and develop our partnership with both NHS Fife and NHS Education Scotland and continue to offer the full spectrum of education and training to medical professionals from undergraduate level and beyond. We value very highly our partnership with the NHS, with many of our academics having dual roles in not only teaching but in practice throughout Fife, whether at the Victoria Hospital, the community hospitals or in community practices.”

NHS Fife Medical Director, Dr Christopher McKenna, added: “Our new partnership is hugely exciting and builds upon the collaborative relationship developed over a number of years and across a broad range of projects and initiatives.

“NHS Fife prides itself on fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries to continually enhance the quality of care and treatment we provide for patients. Our new formal partnership, alongside the newly developed primary medical qualification programme, provides greater research opportunities, enhances clinical education, and helps provide the future medical workforce with an excellent grounding for their future practice.”

The University of St Andrews (Degrees in Medicine and Dentistry) Bill 2021 was created to remove part of the 1966 Act so the University of St Andrews can hold exams and award degrees in medicine and dentistry.

The University of St Andrews welcomed the approval of new legislation which removes the prohibition that prevents Scotland’s oldest University from awarding degrees in Medicine and Dentistry.

The University of St Andrews (Degrees in Medicine and Dentistry) Bill 2021 makes a technical amendment to the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 which reconstituted Scotland’s “ancient universities” (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews). It also created the University of Dundee, which took over the clinical part of the medical degree that the University of St Andrews had previously delivered.

Find out more about the new community programme, Medicine MBChB Scottish Community Orientated Medicine (ScotCOM), on the University School of Medicine web page.

Category Health

Related topics

Share this story