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New white paper highlights role of universities in narrowing Yorkshire’s health and economic gap

Published: 23 February 2024

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Logo for the Empowering Local Places white paper

Alongside meaningful devolution to local leaders, universities, businesses and key organisations across the region should play a more prominent role in boosting health and delivering inclusive growth and wider prosperity according to a new white paper. 

The ‘Empowering Local Places for Health and Prosperity’ white paper states that as a region home to 37,000 students studying medicine or health-related subjects, Yorkshire’s universities are well-placed to meet ambitious targets set out in the NHS’s Long-Term Workforce Plan to double the number of medical school places in England and increasing adult nursing training places by 92%.  

The paper, from Health Innovation Yorkshire & Humber, Yorkshire Universities and the NHS Confederation, recommends that health service leaders and the government should work more closely with universities to remove barriers to student recruitment in health-related subjects.  

Another key recommendation is that central government should devolve more health powers to local places so that solutions can be found that meet the needs of local people and communities. 
Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice Chancellor of York St John University and Chair of Yorkshire Universities, said:  

“Action to deliver on the NHS Workforce Plan ambitions has been slow to materialise, which is concerning given the scale of the workforce crisis the NHS is facing.  

“I’m pleased that this white paper recognises the crucial role of universities in meeting the targets in the Workforce Plan, including boosting student recruitment, providing capital investment to improve training capacity, extending and diversifying placements and practice-learning, and tackling health student and early-career attrition.  

“It also reinforces the importance of collaborative initiatives such our Yorkshire Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN), which unites our academics with policymakers and communities to ensure they are armed with evidence about what the economy and their communities really need to thrive.” 

Health inequalities and economic inactivity currently cost the UK £180bn a year.  Yorkshire and Humber’s diverse geography, economy and population, and strong partnerships make it a “perfect test bed” to pilot new ways of working amid mounting pressure on the health service and public sector. 

The white paper was developed after gathering evidence from more than 40 individuals covering wide ranging perspectives across Yorkshire and beyond. 

To find out more visit  

Yorkshire Universities (YU) is a partnership of 12 higher education institutions in Yorkshire and the Humber, including York St John University. YU’s mission is to maximise the contribution of higher education to the region, through collaboration, where this generates greatest impact and public benefit, and aspiration and opportunity are supported. YU is a unique partnership based on a shared commitment to improve the economic and social prosperity and wellbeing of people and places in Yorkshire and the Humber. 

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