Three universities are jointly examining plans born out of the Greater Manchester devolution project to train more health workers and set up an independent international medical school.

Manchester, Salford and Manchester Metropolitan universities say it is the first stage of collaboration on healthcare education in the region to tackle local needs.

The new school will primarily have an international focus for recruitment, but it is also likely to have places for UK students and plans are being explored to offer bursaries to local students.

A provisional opening date has been set for September 2018.

A joint statement from the universities said the collaboration, primarily focused on training more doctors, would draw on the experience of all three organisations in educating and training health professionals.

The statement said: “Our discussions are at an early stage, but teaching more medical students right here in Greater Manchester is an exciting prospect.

“This is the first stage in the three universities developing a coordinated approach to healthcare education in the region to help address our local needs and priorities.

“By combining our knowledge, expertise, facilities and stakeholder networks we can offer world class opportunities which are highly attractive and accessible in a rapidly changing landscape for medical and health professionals in the UK and globally.”

A spokesman for the universities said the Brexit vote had not affected discussions at this stage.

The extension of medical training in the North West will be in addition to Manchester University’s medical school, one of the oldest in the country, which has more than 2,100 students.

The UK’s first private medical school opened 18 months ago at Buckingham University.

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