CONCERNS have been raised that a new medical school planned for Derry could now be lost to Belfast.

In March of this year, Ulster University said that plans for the first intake of trainee doctors to start their studies in the new facility remained on schedule for next year.

Around 60 trainee doctors are expected to enrol at the new medical school, which will be based at Magee campus.

The university hopes that student numbers will increase to 120 per year within five years of the school's opening.

Currently, the only medical school in the North is based at Queen's University in Belfast.

However, concerns have now been raised over the progress being made on the new facility locally, with the Ulster University now being called on to issue an urgent update on what stage the plans for the medical school are at.

The comments came at a recent meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community committee, where the SDLP’s Tina Gardiner proposed that representatives from the university are now brought in to address councillors about the issue.

Cllr Gardiner told the meeting that by now, the university should be ‘further along’ in terms of ‘looking at its admissions for 2019’.

“There seems to be some sort of stalling in the process,” she said, before voicing concerns that Queens University were now also involved in the ‘bidding’.

“We need to get Ulster University back in and see where they are with the business case,” she said.

“We need to keep up the pressure on them because it’s the North West that really needs these places.”

Her proposal was seconded by her party colleague Brian Tierney.

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