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Royal visit

1 December 2015

A student from the School of Medicine in a simulation suite

Wales’ first state-of-the art integrated University Health Park will host a visit by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on Tuesday 15 December 2015.

Opened in 2012, Keir Hardie University Health Park in Merthyr Tydfil is tackling some of the entrenched health and social care problems faced by communities in the south Wales valleys. The £35m facility is unique in providing health and social care services under one roof, making the best facilities available in the areas where people need them the most.

The site also boasts a £2.8million state-of-the art Academic Centre which opened its doors to University medical students earlier this year.

The Academic Centre was built in response to a shared vision between Cwm Taf University Health Board and Cardiff University to establish a teaching and research base for undergraduate medical trainees in Merthyr Tydfil with a strong emphasis on community medicine and direct patient contact.

Between 60 and 90 medical students from the University’s School of Medicine go through its doors each week to develop their skills with hands-on experience of the care settings around Merthyr Tydfil and the Cynon Valley.

Professor John Bligh, Dean of the School of Medicine, said: “The Academic Centre uniquely brings together best practice in integrated health and social care delivery in the community, with modern early patient contact education for medical and other healthcare students.

“His Royal Highness will get to meet some of the Volunteer Instructor Patients who come in to help students with their learning by providing real life case studies of chronic and complex conditions.

“By learning in the setting where patients live and work students are able to investigate the relevance of culture, language, and history to the well-being of people and of populations. This helps students integrate their experience into their own development as doctors for the future. Learning to respect, value, engage with, and be inspired by people from all walks of life is a critical factor in choice of future career.

“The students are learning their science not only in the laboratories and lecture theatres of the university but also, and crucially, in the wider community where the effects of geography, housing, diet, and poverty are seen at first hand.”

Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, Chair of Public Health Wales, said: “On behalf of all our partners we are delighted to welcome His Royal Highness to this world class facility.

“At Public Health Wales we are committed to developing and supporting primary care services to improve the public’s health and also work with our communities to help them improve their health and wellbeing.”

His Royal Highness will get to meet staff and local patients who are at the heart of the new facilities.

Dr Christopher Jones, Chairman of Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “His Royal Highness will be able to see how Keir Hardie University Health Park is a platform to challenge the inverse care law by uniquely bringing together all the elements of health and social care to support people and help them develop healthier lives.

“With these opportunities, the future of healthcare for our communities across the south Wales valleys can, and will be improved. His Royal Highness will also see how, together with Cardiff University we are leading the way in training the young doctors of the future

Keir Hardie Medical Education Centre
Keir Hardie Medical Education Centre

“This teaching facility reaches out to medical students in the first two years of their medical training. It opens a window for them to experience in their formative years the needs, values and joy of serving our Welsh valley communities.

“I can think of nowhere more stimulating or more rewarding than primary and community care delivered from the iconic Keir Hardie University Health Park based in the heart of the community of Merthyr Tydfil. It is a place rich in learning and healing.”

Sir Mansel added: “Keir Hardie University Health Park offers opportunities to those who want to make a real difference to improve the health and wellbeing of the people in Wales.

“Our local public health team is working with and for, the community in Merthyr Tydfil to develop healthy behaviours and to support people with complex needs. The academic centre is also key in our journey to improving health and wellbeing, by supporting the development of future healthcare staff.”