Kingston's healthy future

February 23, 1996

Your recent report "Kingston wrests longer nurse training contract from NHS" (THES, February 9) needs clarification. The contract between South Thames Regional Health Authority, St George's Hospital Medical School and Kingston University, followed from the recent health service reforms to move hospital-based schools into higher education.

These reforms have deliberately included an element of risk for higher education institutions to ensure quality and value for money for the NHS in education and training, and have created a market economy with purchasers and providers. The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals/NHS concordat recommends that the contracts for pre-registration courses be for a minimum five years of student intake.

To ensure true integration, we are investing in a new campus building, and if the contract is terminated, our financial liabilities will include capital building costs as well as redundancies. This level of risk has to be weighed against the benefits of becoming a centre for excellence for healthcare education, training, and research. Inevitably, the negotiations involving the NHS, to create a partnership between a new and a traditional university, were complex, but we are all delighted with the outcome.

Michael Pittilo

Dean of joint faculty of healthcare services

Kingston University and St George's Medical School

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