Hospital unveils plans to attract more doctors


The campus will feature a six-storey accommodation block that will include a learning hub, private study and offices, sited next to the existing hospital in Pembury.

The initiative by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust [MTW] has been given the green light by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC]. When completed, the campus will accommodate 145 medical students and trainee doctors.

Construction is expected to start at the beginning of August and be completed by next March. The new building will welcome the first intake of Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS) students in September 2022.

KMMS, which itself opened in September 2020, will provide the Trust with approximately 40 students in the first intake.

Once fully established, it will place 120 additional medical students with MTW each year – a 315 per cent increase in the total number of students the Trust currently takes.

The students and junior doctors will be split between the Trust’s two hospitals, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone, with slightly more based at Pembury due to the wider range of specialities on that site.

Students undertake their clinical placement with the Trust in years three, four and five of their degrees, and have a need to live close to the hospital so they have direct access to a wide range of medical and surgical services to complete their studies.

The Trust says by living on site it also removes the need for students to travel by car to and from the hospital. A free staff bus service is also available should they need to travel to Maidstone Hospital.

Dr Peter Maskell, Medical Director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, said: “We are looking forward to building work starting and welcoming the first intake of KMMS students next year.

“Providing high quality student accommodation and teaching space within the grounds of the hospital will help attract future generations of doctors and medical students to MTW as they can live, learn and work close to their clinical placement.

“By providing students with a good experience during their training it is hoped they will stay with the Trust once they have qualified.

“This will lead to an increase in the number of medical staff employed by MTW and provide an essential boost, not only to improving local health and care but also contributing towards the future resilience of the NHS.”

The ground floor of the building will house the academic space as well as two six-bedroom flats. Floors one to five will be entirely student accommodation made up of six, five or four-bed flats, all of which will have a communal kitchen, dining and living area and en-suite bathrooms attached to each bedroom.

In addition, eight wheelchair accessible flats will be provided – two on each floor – from the first to the fourth floors. On the roof there will be solar panels plus a green roof on the south-east wing of the building.

Chris Holland, Dean of Kent and Medway Medical School, said: “The development of a student accommodation and teaching campus at Tunbridge Wells Hospital makes it clear how committed to high quality education the Trust is.

“Providing an excellent placement experience is a crucial part of our shared vision to train and retain doctors in our region. This building will give students from Kent and Medway Medical School, and students from other medical schools and health programmes, the facilities and accommodation they need to support their studies.

“The school and our placement provider partners from across the region are focused on enabling our graduates become the future doctors we are working together to train.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Leader Tom Dawlings welcomed the new student campus. He said: ‘‘If nothing else, the past year or so has reminded us of the vital role the NHS plays in our lives.

“This development is important as it will have a long-term positive impact on staffing in the NHS, and I am very pleased that the Council’s planning team got the application processed and to the committee as quickly as possible.”

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