As anyone knows who has visited our facilities in either Hull or York, HYMS is not the first medical school on either site. Both cities had schools in the nineteenth century, but neither of them survived the changes wrought by the Medical Acts and the foundation of the General Medical Council in 1858.
The University of Hull had aspirations for a new medical school from the mid-1970s, but it was only when the decision was taken to found four new medical schools in the UK that this became a reality with the exciting opportunity to combine the strengths of both Hull and York.
Among other things, York had strong biological sciences and health sciences departments; Hull had its own Postgraduate Medical School and a large clinical base. This area of the country had been 'under-doctored' for many years, and the hope was that a new medical school would not only pull in expertise and ease recruitment, but also provide long-term improvements to the quality of healthcare in the region, because doctors tend to stay and work close to where they study as medical students.
The local NHS was a full partner from the start, and it has been one of the strengths of HYMS that not only have two rather different universities been able to work together smoothly and productively, but relationships with our numerous local NHS Trusts have nearly always been extremely cordial. A key early decision was to have joint meetings at the highest level between the universities and the NHS, and between the Trusts themselves. Another key decision was that students would be randomly allocated between the two campuses for the first two years, before becoming a common cohort which would benefit from clinical experience throughout the diverse region.
Perhaps a controversial decision was that fully half of our students' clinical experience should be in primary care. Over the years in the UK, there have been many attempts to increase the amount of primary care contact in undergraduate courses, since most clinical encounters take place there – but nothing on this scale had ever been envisaged before, and it's a tribute to the people involved in the bid that the arrangements were followed through and have been successful.
Finally, to put together the curriculum took a very large amount of work. The founding Dean, Bill Gillespie, was appointed early in 2002, taking up his post in March. The Director of Medical Education arrived in September of that year and the other key staff the following January, leaving about nine months before the students came. And the rest, as they say, is history.