interviews

24.10.18

RCP president on new Liverpool college building: ‘This will be a hub for clinicians in the north’

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has told NHE that the college’s new headquarters based in Liverpool will become a hub for clinicians in the north of the UK.

Professor Andrew Goddard, who took over from previous president Professor Jane Dacre last month, said the college’s new building – named ‘The Spine’ – will allow clinicians to travel to Merseyside to take a range of exams without the hassle of travelling to London, and signals the RCP’s intentions of moving away from London-centric operations with fellows.

“It acts as a hub for clinicians, members and fellows up in the north,” Prof Goddard said. “The big thing being said about the loss of morale in the NHS workforce at the moment is a lack of belonging, and so we’re quite keen that we try and foster that feeling of belonging to a group of like-minded people.

“This is an opportunity for us to build a purpose-built exams and assessment centre for the 21st century, and it won’t just be college exams we’re happy to host — other exams such as PLAB or the Faculty of Physicians Associates exams can be held there. It’s part of our raison d'être to be good at exams, and this sets that.”

Work officially began on the £35m building last week: based in the Knowledge Quarter at Paddington Village of the city, the 160,000 sq. ft building will be one of the healthiest workspaces for mental and physical wellbeing in the UK, and it is hoped that it will be among the first to achieve the international WELL standard of modern building design when it opens its doors in 2020.

Prof Goddard noted that the decision to create a northern HQ was indicative of the RCP’s “flag in the sand” to show fellows that it is not simply London-based.

“I’ve been working for the college since 2003 in various roles, and hearing the comment that the RCP is London-centric, or that it’s an ivory tower, that ‘you guys in your leather-bound chairs smoking your cigars don’t understand what it’s like in the real world’—well I can easily robust that.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and effort over the past five years developing our regional structures, making sure that we are more representative. One of the things that goes along with that is building our new site in Liverpool, and that is a key part of my four years as president and getting that up and running and working effectively, but that’s a clear flag in the sand to say that we are not just London-based.”

The Spine will boast an internal sky garden, complete with high-oxygen producing plants, a fine dining restaurant available for private hire, and under croft parking for 50 spaces featuring five electric charging points.

He added: “Fellowship is about meeting together, sharing ideas and so one of the purposes of RCP north is to provide that, and so also people don’t have to travel down to London.”

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Image credit: RCP

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