I have not had any discussions in my current position with the Minister or with the colleagues whom the Member mentions, although it is something that I am familiar with from my time as Health Minister. I am seeking to draw on my knowledge from that time.
There was a very good proposal, although it was in its infancy and early stages and required significant development by the university, to open a graduate medical school in the north-west. That was a good and positive thing that could address two issues in particular. One was high locum costs in the Western Trust area — I have now reverted quickly to my previous role, as the Member will notice — and an issue with general practice, which was raised by Paula Bradley in the House yesterday. Those issues are pertinent to the Western Trust area.
I have not had the discussions that the Member has had, but I expect that we will have discussions as the university develops its plans and ideas for a graduate medical school in the north-west.
I will give the same view now as I did when I was Health Minister, which is that I very much support in principle the idea of developing a graduate medical school in the north-west, as it made sense for the health reasons that I mentioned. Obviously, that has to be done in connection with available finances and all the requisite business cases and so forth. In principle, however, absolutely it is something that I support, and I look forward to working with the university, and, indeed, colleagues to make it happen.