Honorary Professorship for Birmingham GP for services to primary care

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Dr Nick Harding OBE, Chair of Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, has been appointed as Honorary Professor of Community Cardiology and Primary Care Leadership at Aston University.

The Professorship recognises his work in Community Medicine and his engagement with the new Aston Medical School whose aims are to take young people from socially deprived areas of Birmingham and Black Country to pursue a career in Medicine, something Nick is also passionate to see translate in our region.

Aston Medical School opened as a postgraduate medical school on 12th June 2014 and was granted degree-awarding powers by the Privy Council of United Kingdom in July 2015. It plans to take the first undergraduate medical students in the autumn of 2017 subject to General Medical Council approval.

Aston Medical School will work alongside local secondary schools in deprived areas of Birmingham and the Black Country to identify students with the right skills and attitude to succeed at a career in Medicine. The scheme aims to raise ambitions and increase social mobility and is supported by The Sir Doug Ellis Healthcare Pathway Programme at Aston University. There will be also scholarships and financial assistance available to those selected for the programme.

Shortages for future general practice have been well publicised. The long term goal for this unique partnership with local schools is to build a sustainable medical workforce for the West Midlands, with highly-skilled local doctors serving their local population.

Professor Asif Ahmed, the founder and first Executive Dean of Aston Medical School and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health at Aston University who holds the Aston’s 50th Anniversary Chair of Translational Medicine, said: “I first met Nick three years ago when I was seeking support for our project to create a second medical school in Birmingham. It was clear to me that Nick was passionate about building a better NHS, looked for innovative solutions and wanted to promote social mobility in Medicine. I am pleased that the University has recognised his contribution with this professorship appointment. We’ll continue to work closely to build an exemplar medical school for the people of our region and beyond. I see this as the start to a dream I had to see Greater Birmingham become the Boston of Europe. We need champions like Professor Nick Harding and Professor Julia King, The Baroness Brown of Cambridge and Vice-Chancellor of Aston University to support us.”

Dr Nick Harding OBE, born in Birmingham, qualified in medicine from the University of Birmingham in 1994, joining Handsworth Wood Medical Centre as a GP partner.

With GP colleagues, he helped to establish the Modality Partnership, a new type of GP super-practice which continues to have its head office in Birmingham and has established a new type of clinical model in primary care recognised in general practice reviews by Kings Fund and Nuffield Trust. Through investment from the Prime Minister’s Innovation Fund, Modality Partnership have improved access for their patients by using technology to help their patients book appointments online, by Skype and more flexible access to appointments.

In 2012 Dr Nick Harding was appointed Chair of Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has gone on to win multiple awards for its approach including CCG of the Year 2013 and 2015. Committed to education, personal development and collaborative working, Harding was listed by the Health Service Journal as one of the top 50 healthcare leaders last year. Professor Nick Harding OBE said “It is a real honour to be recognised in this way. Becoming a doctor is one of the greatest privileges in society and we must work together in partnership to develop the doctors of the future. Our unique programme will help identify tomorrow’s doctors from our inner city areas with a passion for supporting some of the poorer communities and their big health challenges.”

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More information:

NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU Press office on 0121 612 3888 or
out of hours: 07702 141483

Notes to editors

Summary Biography:   Professor Nick J Harding OBE


Professor Nick Harding OBE is Chair for Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, actively involved in primary care transformation and leadership development, recognised nationally by awards for its delivery (CCG of the Year 2013 & 2015).  Nick undertakes a number of roles locally including a doctor and GP Partner at Modality Partnership. Regionally he is a member of West Midlands Clinical Senate, a member for Local Education Training Committee to plan future healthcare workforce and was Chair for stroke reconfiguration services. Passionate about GPs taking up leadership roles in the future, in 2015 he created and sourced funding from Health Education to support delivery of a new type of Primary Care Leadership development programme for future GP leaders and over 120 GPs have successfully completed this one year programme. Nationally he is co-chair for specialised commissioning oversight group to help move commissioning of specialised services to new models, member of Health Education England Medical Advisory Group, New Models of Care Evaluator, Nuffield leadership panel and British Journal of General Practice Reviewer.

Professor Nick Harding, born in Birmingham, qualified in medicine from University of Birmingham in 1994, joining as a GP partner at Handsworth Wood Medical Centre in 1999. He established the Modality Partnership with GP colleagues to improve quality of care in an inner city setting and build a sustainable primary care model for the future.  Nick has always been committed to education and professional leadership issues with roles as trainer within the West Midlands Deanery (2001 onwards) and examiner for Royal College of General Practitioners 2003-2015.  Specialisms include occupational medicine and cardiology, holding multiple appointments e.g. for Health and Safety Executive and Birmingham Crematorium.  Outside of working hours Nick is involved in delivering Health education in Malawi. He has a natural style of collaborative clinical leadership, working in partnership wherever possible to achieve major change and transformation for patients and has been listed by Health Service Journal as one of the top 100 healthcare leaders in 2015 (47th). He was also recognised by Queen’s award OBE in June 2015 for services to primary care.

About Aston Medical School

The undergraduate medical course is planned to open with a small cohort of students in 2017/18, with the full intake commencing in 2018/19. The investment required will be £25-30 million, which includes a new building to house the Aston Medical School.

Local clinical placements

Memoranda of Understanding are signed with Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (Warwick Hospital) for clinical placements for the full cohort from the first intake onwards. Service Level Agreements have also been agreed with 82 GP practices to provide Primary Care clinical placements for our students. We established a GP Working Group to decide who is best placed to take the first set of clinical placements without compromising University of Birmingham medical students.

Unique funding model
The funding model for the medical course at Aston Medical School is unique and key features are:

  • low-cost to the public purse
  • a medical degree with a mini-MBA
  • Greater Birmingham and the Black Country social mobility for from students high index of deprivation secondary school via the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare
  • Medical School Executive Board includes members of NHS Trust Executive
  • School will have small cohort size for high quality educational and clinical experience
  • each student will be treated as an individual and not a number
  • inter-professional learning with pharmacy, audiology and optometry students
  • value of community 

The international fee will be £36,000 per annum and will be comparable with other independent medical schools in the UK at the University of Buckingham and at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). In contrast to these schools, Aston Medical School model is to invest its income to produce local doctors from local hard-to-reach community at a cost to the public purse of a standard four years science degree. University is also situated at the centre of a vibrant city with all of the facilities young people require and desire.