Planning permission has been granted for The Bolton College of Medical Sciences (BCMS). Due to open in 2022, it is expected to transform how NHS workforces are trained in the UK, alleviate staffing pressures and result in an improved level of care.

The granting of the planning permission is a major milestone for the new College, which will train a new generation of health and social care professionals. Once open, it will give people a direct route into health and social care employment, and provide unrivalled training opportunities for existing hospital staff to upskill and further their careers.

BCMS is understood to be the first of its kind in the UK, due to its new model of partnership, a unique teaching and learning environment, and combination of training provision across disciplines, professions and agencies. It is expected BCMS will become a blueprint for other NHS foundation trusts.

The new state-of-the-art vocational and professional skills and training facility in Bolton is a joint venture between the University of Bolton, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, Bolton Council, and Bolton College. It will focus on learning within a healthcare culture, with practical training within simulated hospital environments. It will be able to teach 3,000 students a year, with around 1,000 apprentices in a range of health and social care roles.

At Thursday’s planning committee in Bolton, Councillors gave the go-ahead for the designs, which include a teaching and learning space, café, an associated staff and service space, and a dedicated multi-story car park. The new facilities will utilise the latest medical technology, with simulation suites and surgical and acute care environments. The 7,600sqm site is located at the Bolton NHS Trust hospital site in Farnworth.

The development will incorporate two separate buildings: a part four/part five-storey education building for the College, and a three/four-storey car park to serve the BCMS learners, teaching and support staff, and any visitors to the facility. The plans also detail an attractive outdoor recreational space with planting, benches and cycle parking.

The overall project cost is £30m. When open, the facility is expected to bring £150m to the local economy. Greater Manchester Combined Authority has granted £10m through its Skills Capital Fund, supported by the University of Bolton Group, in partnership with Bolton Council and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

A tendering process will now begin for contractors and construction partners on the development. The construction phase of the site is expected to create 150 full-time equivalent jobs. Once open, it is expected to create an additional 25,000 jobs, including apprenticeships, in its first 20 years.

Bill Webster, Principal of Bolton College, said:

“This is an incredibly important milestone for Bolton College of Medical Science, allowing us to move forward with this innovative project. Our health and social care courses are the largest fastest growing part of our curriculum and this marks a new era of healthcare skills and training. BCMS will benefit people locally and beyond, through improving healthcare provision and helping to combat pressures on the NHS workforce. We would like to thank everyone that has supported us in reaching this point, and we look forward to working closely with our partners again as we now focus our efforts towards construction work starting on site.”

Trish Armstrong-Child, Director of Nursing & Deputy Chief Executive, at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said,

“We’re absolutely delighted that Bolton College of Medical Sciences will go ahead, and we are looking forward to working with our partners to bringing this fantastic facility to Bolton.

“Being able to train the future workforce right here on the site of the Royal Bolton Hospital is such a positive move for this area. We’re excited to see the plans become a reality.”

Kondal Reddy Kandadi, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said, “We are grateful to Bolton Council for supporting and approving this strategically important planning application for building the Bolton College of Medical Sciences.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Farnworth, Bolton and the whole of Greater Manchester. This will truly transform Health Education in the region by integrating Further and Higher Education and providing holistic progression routes for students. 

“This collaboration between the university, Bolton College, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton Council will provide a state of the art infrastructure and learning experience for students in pre-degree and degree programmes in Health.

“There is an urgent skills gap nationally in Health disciplines and this project will dramatically increase capacity and capability in that area, which is absolutely crucial for developing a sustainable workforce.”

Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Martyn Cox, said: “This unique centre will deliver a huge boost to the borough, creating local jobs and providing vocational and technical training at all levels.

“It will help us to grow a highly skilled work force, enabling our residents to work their way up through the healthcare, medical and clinical professions.”

Councillor Sean Fielding, GMCA lead for employment, skills and apprenticeships commented,

“We are delighted to hear the fantastic news that the Bolton College of Medical Sciences has been granted planning permission. The GMCA committed £10million from the Local Growth Fund to the project as it will bring skills, employment and improvement to care provision in Greater Manchester. We now look forward to seeing this state-of-the art facility take shape.”

BCMS will sit along Bolton Council’s new masterplan for Farnworth town centre, set to launch this summer. It will also form a key part of the council’s ambitious “Bolton 2030” vision, which has a focus on improving the health and wellbeing of local residents, and economic prosperity.

The strategic brief was developed by Just Ask Scarlett, design plans were by Associated Architects, Avison Young acted as planning consultant with Box Clever Consulting as project manager.

BCMS is expected to welcome its first intake of learners in 2022.

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