Copeland MP Trudy Harrison has invited the Secretary of State for Health to view a pioneering scheme in the borough to retrain forces veterans.

The visit has been offered to promote national Armed Forces Day, which takes place on Saturday.

Mrs Harrison received an update this week on the innovative work under way at Westlakes Science Park, which aims to upskill and retrain armed forces veterans from all over the country.

Cathy Jackson, head of the School of Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire (UClan), based at Westlakes, said: “We already have some veterans on our Physician Associates program. We have worked with both councils who are keen to help support in very practical ways such as housing and schooling, and we have now also created a route through for spouses into our nursing program at West Cumbria – all taught in West Cumbria,”

She added: “We can take veterans/spouses onto our Foundation program or our Physician Associate program now. The PA program is taught entirely in West Cumbria and the Foundation program already provides a route to medicine for them, although two years need to be in Preston at the moment. However, within 18 months we would hope to be able to provide the whole program for them in West Cumbria.”

Mrs Harrison explained the reason for extending an invite to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock: “The potential to upskill and train veterans is both commendable and sensible; after serving our nation, our veterans deserve our wholehearted support. Welcoming the armed forces community to Cumbria, ensuring their settled status whilst plugging our health and social care sector employment challenges is innovation at its best.”

The MP joined the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme in 2017 in order to learn more about the challenges faced by men and women who serve and their families, and has visited Naval bases both in the UK and abroad.

“This September I shall continue my training with the Army. As an MP, I make decisions and inform policy, so having such an insight has proven vital to my work. Defence is the largest employer of apprenticeships, and also the greatest cash contributor towards research and development. Our military might and overseas territories reinforce our place in the world, and all those who serve, and their families, have my upmost respect and admiration,” Mrs Harrison added.

UClan would like to hear from veterans, or those preparing to leave the forces, who have been involved in healthcare whilst in the forces and would like to become a physician associate or consider training as a doctor – A levels, GCSEs, and degrees are all not required, and veterans and those who have left the forces can join a Foundation year to help them back into education.

For further information, contact Cathy on