Ambitious plans to turn the West Midlands into the capital of Britain’s health industry are set to be launched by regional minister Liam Byrne.
He will reveal plans for three Academic Health Science Centres in the region, bringing universities and hospitals together to provide training and attract investment.
The first will be based at the University of Warwick and bring together the university’s medical school with NHS trusts across Warwickshire and Coventry.
Academic Health Centres are also planned for the University of Birmingham and Keele University, in Staffordshire. The aim is to create new jobs making use of the region’s traditional skills in manufacturing and engineering.
Academic Health Science Centres are partnerships between universities and hospitals which can go as far as the creation of joint management boards. Examples include Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The United Kingdom currently has one such centre, at Imperial College in London. But this would be dwarfed by the Birmingham scheme, which bring in teaching hospitals including Heartlands and the Queen Elizabeth, as well as all three universities in the city.
The aim would be to create jobs and bring investment into the West Midlands, by making the region a world leader in medicine.
This includes establishing the West Midlands one of the world’s largest and best international centres for training of health professionals to work not just in the UK but in health systems across the world.
The Academic Health Science Centres would also support the medical device industry, a major part of the manufacturing sector.
The global market in medical devices such as surgical instruments, laboratory and diagnostic equipment, pacemakers and high technology scanners is expected to have a value of £150 billion by 2011
It is also hoped that the region could become a centre for the clinical trials industry, which is currently based around Oxbridge and London.
Mr Byrne will unveil the proposals at a summit at Warwick University on Monday.
They are designed to make the most of the manufacturing and engineering skills of the West Midlands workforce, and existing medical expertise in the region’s universities.
Warwick Academic Health Science Centre will draw on the University of Warwick’s research expertise in biology, engineering and medicine.
One of the first tangible benefits of the scheme will be the establishment at University Hospital in Coventry of a new £1 million anatomy training and clinical skills centre that will be used to train Warwick Medical School students as well as local surgeons and physicians.
Yvonne Carter, the University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Regional Engagement and Dean of Warwick Medical School, said she hoped the West Midlands would become a world-renowned centre for medical research and training.
She said: "The establishment of Warwick Academic Health Science Centre is a fantastic opportunity for the West Midlands. Not only will patients benefit from better services and access to state-of-the-art treatments, but it will focus international attention on this region as a centre of excellence for medical research, education and training."
Mr Byrne said: "The West Midlands needs science to create the jobs of the future. I believe our universities and hospitals could come together in research powerhouses, driving new cures, saving lives, and creating jobs.
"Last year I asked the NHS and our universities to tell me how we could do it. Today they have delivered plans to rival the best research centres anywhere in the world."
The NHS in the West Midlands is to appoint a full-time chief executive to ensure the plans happen, he said.
"We can create in the West Midlands one of the world’s largest and best international centres for the training of health professionals to work in health systems across the world."