About Us


Executive Dean, Faculty of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences

Rural medicine has been under-served for a number of years and the centre aims to provide a focus for remote and rural medical education and research in collaboration with colleagues globally. Our aim is to provide a centre which will address issues affecting recruitment and retention of staff in remote and rural areas and provide solutions which will help to achieve better outcomes for both staff and patients.

UCLan’s National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine (NCRRM) is located in the university’s Westlakes Campus, near Whitehaven in West Cumbria. The region is not alone in its challenges, but provides a beautiful setting for training regional and global clinicians in all aspects of medicine relating to living, working and recreation in remote and rural environments.

As we are located in West Cumbria, the National Centre provides students with a unique set of opportunities, exposing them to the challenges of remote and rural medicine. Delivery of medical education locally aims to increase the numbers of students and doctors in the area, potentially improving recruitment and retention of medical professionals in the rural environment.

Digital technology is playing an increasingly important role in providing effective and safe health care in rural regions and is included in the programmes we offer, alongside pre-hospital emergency care; risk management; operational practice and human factors.

Centre accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons

Centre accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons


Professor John Howarth

Professor John HowarthProfessor John Howarth is a senior clinician with over 30 years’ experience. He is a director of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, leading on service improvement and is Deputy Chief Executive. John is the clinical lead for the Cumbria Learning and Improvement Collaborative (CLIC) and is currently clinically active as a part-time GP. John is no stranger to urgent care having previously worked in 11 different war zones and natural disasters, first with Medecins San Frontieres and latterly as Medical Director and Director of Operations for Medical Relief International (Merlin).


Dr Valerie Smart

Dr Valerie SmartVal Smart is the Foundation Medical Sciences Programme Co-ordinator. Her background includes a career in biochemistry and genetics research as well as being involved in education.



Steve Minto

Steven MintoSteve Minto is the Centre Administrator, providing support to the academic staff and Centre Manager. Steve has been involved in Higher Education for the majority of his professional life.

Stuart McNee

Stuart McNeeStuart McNee is the Senior Wellbeing Officer at West Cumberland Medical Education Centre, where he provides general student support and specialist disability, wellbeing and mental health advice/referral for students. Stuart has been involved in education for most of his professional life and has a wealth of experience in pastoral care.


Dr Eric Bater

Dr Eric BaterEric Bater is the undergraduate medicine MBBS Campus Day Facilitator and SSC3 Lead. Previously a GP, he has been involved in the training of GP registrars for more than two decades.

Dawyn Sawyer

Dawyn SawyerDawyn Sawyer, PA-C, graduated from the University of Iowa Physician Assistant programme with a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies in 1992. She worked firstly at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Paediatric GI for 13 years where she saw children for a variety of health care needs and assisted with sedating children who required endoscopic evaluations. For the past 10 years, Dawyn has worked in remote Alaska, teaching Community Health Aides emergency care, acute and chronic care, as well as preventative care of Native Alaskans.

Hilary Ross

Hilary RossHilary Ross delivers the English for Academic Purposes and English for Medicine programmes at the Westlakes Medical Educational Centre. She has a number of years teaching experience in higher education institutions both in the UK and the Middle East.

Matthew Mustain

Matthew MustainMatthew Mustain is the academic lead for the MSc Physician Associate Practice programme. He was a practicing Physician Assistant in the United States relocated to the Isle of Man in 2011. He had been a practicing Physician Associate in Phoenix, Arizona since 2002 working in internal medicine with experience in Paediatrics, Perioperative Medicine, and Rheumatology. He also mentored PAs in Phoenix, and taught rheumatology and joint arthrocentesis to medical students and MDs. He has maintained his certification in the USA while helping to expand the Physician Associate role in the UK. He has been a member of the RCP Faculty of Physician Associates since its UK inception. He currently works at West Cumberland Hospital in a newly developing PA role.

Dr Tatiana Gaines

Dr Tatiana GainesTatiana Gaines is an OBGYN physician who trained and practiced medicine for more than 14 years in her native Ukraine. She has worked with not-for-profit woman’s health clinics, NGOs dedicated to advancing women’s reproductive health issues, and published research in this area of practice. In 2008, Tatiana was elected an Associate Member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Tatiana is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health and Sciences at a prominent mid-Atlantic university, teaching courses in medical topics at the Graduate and Undergraduate level. In 2015 Tatiana completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health with Global Health Certificate from UMass Amherst.

Tatiana has been a member of the Medical School team at West Cumberland Medical Education Centre since May 2017, teaching on the Physician Associate Studies and the BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences (Foundation Entry) programmes.

Professor Gershan Davis

Gershan DavisGershan Davis is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust. He is academic lead for the UCLan West Lakes phase 2 MBBS programme and Hospitalist Medicine MSc programme. His background is in Clinical Cardiology and Medical Education with a career spanning 30 years in medical practice as well as in undergraduate medical education at University of Liverpool and postgraduate Cardiology training with Mersey Deanery. His research interests include imaging of the coronary arteries, effect of obesity on heart rhythm disturbances and clinical education.”

Dr Catherine Blyth

Catherine is the PWS Tutor for the undergraduate medicine MBBS programme as well as working part time as a GP in a rural practice in West Cumbria.



Dr Jo Grove – Campus Day Facilitator – MBBS Programme

Dr Jo Grove is a native Cumbrian, who attended Medical School in Newcastle and trained in General Surgery, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons aged 27. Jo changed to General Practice to live and work in the Lake District and is a GP in Keswick. Jo is also a Medical Officer for Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team and his hobbies include mountaineering, triathlon, sailing, cycling and fell-running with Paddy, his Cocker Spaniel.


Dr Caroline Bateman – Module Lead for Health and Society – MBBS Programme

Dr Caroline Bateman is a GP who trained in West Cumbria having previously completed a remote and rural option at medical school in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Caroline has an interest in emergency medicine and medical education, and is currently involved in setting up a new acute primary care service. Caroline joined UCLan in January 2019 as Module Lead for Health and Society on the MBBS programme at the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine at the Westlakes Campus.


Dr Eric Bater – Campus Day Facilitator – MBBS Programme

Dr Eric Bater is a lecturer on the Physician Associate programme at Westlakes and is a Campus day facilitator on the MBBS Phase 2 programme. He has spent most of his professional life in West Cumbria both as a GP and in the training of GP registrars.

Dr Richard Tranter – Clinical Senior Lecturer – Rural Health

Dr Richard Tranter qualified from Birmingham University in 1987 with the degree of MBChB. He worked briefly in Birmingham but moved to West Cumbria in 1988 to join the West Cumberland Vocational Training Programme for General Practice. Having gained his DCH in 1990, he completed his Membership of the RCGP in 1991, and joined a practice in Whitehaven from where he has worked as a GP since. In 1995 he completed his training as a GP Trainer which he has continued to date, and in 2002 he became the Lead Training Programme Director for the local GP Training programme. He has been an Appraiser since 2002, and has intermittently contributed to the commissioning of services in the area in his role as member of the CCG.

Dr Tim Sanders – Clinical Senior Lecturer – Rural Health

Dr Tim Sanders is a GP in Appleby-in-Westmorland. Alongside his clinical role, he also works as a Training Programme Director for North Cumbria GP Training Programme and he co-ordinates the clinical teaching programme for Cumbria Health on Call. He is a GP appraiser and Mental Health Act Section 12 approved GP.

Dr Alison Overend – Phase 2 Tutor – MBBS Programme

Dr Alison Overend joined UCLan in August 2018, as Phase 2 Tutor. Alison is a GP who has been a partner at Maryport on the West Coast of Cumbria for 25 years. She has been involved in undergraduate medicine in general practice for 24 years. She has also worked in A&E, medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology in the Western Isles of Scotland. She was a trainer in reproductive health for 16 years and also has an interest in therapeutics and in substance misuse. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Joanne Pickering – Clinical Skills Work Based Facilitator – MBBS Programme

Joanne Pickering qualified as a nurse in 1988 from West Cumberland School Nursing, she has worked for North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust since then. Starting her career as a surgical nurse, then as Sister for the Surgical gastroenterology ward, and then to the Emergency Assessment Unit when it amalgamated Medical and Surgical emergencies into a single assessment unit.

At the start of the ‘Hospital at Night’ campaign Joanne moved into a site coordinator role and helped embed the Hospital at Night team roles. This led to the opportunity to develop her management skills and move into a Matron role which she has been in since 2006. In this time Joanne has worked in Medicine, Cardiology and since 2008 Emergency care. During this role Joanne worked with Dr Olu Orugun to commence the Advanced Practitioner unit and role within the hospital and latterly the development of the composite workforce, an innovative mix of Advanced Practitioner from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, Physicians Associate as well as Medical staff.

In 2018 Joanne embarked on the next learning phase of her career and commenced with UCLan as a Clinical Work Based Skills Facilitator with the first cohort of medical students at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre.

Sue Dilling – Phase 2 Administrator – MBBS Programme

Sue Dilling is the Phase 2 Administrative Officer for the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre. Sue has worked as a secretary/administrator for over 20 years in various business sectors.



Dr Fiona Ironside – Senior Clinical Lecturer – Medicine – MSc Hospitalist Medicine Programme


James Kuechel – Lecturer in Mathematics – Medical Sciences (Foundation Entry) Programme

James Kuechel has taught mathematics at FE/HE level for the last ten years; on the back of his undergraduate studies in aeronautical engineering. In the last five years James has worked partly as an educational consultant in the field of mathematics, and completed a research masters degree in Education exploring gender differences in the perceptions of post-16 mathematics. James currently hold a part time position as Lecturer in Mathematics at UCLan, delivering the investigative mathematics module for the medical school at West Lakes Campus. James is also director of Red Pike Education; and an NCETM accredited PD-Lead for the northern Maths Hubs.



West Cumbria enjoys a world class environment and landscape, presenting unrivalled opportunities for leisure and an excellent quality of life. The breath-taking scenery and strong communities make it a great place to live and work.

Blencathra, Whitehaven Harbour, St Bees Beach, Whitehaven Lighthouse

To the north there is the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) while the south is renowned for its spectacular sunsets and St Bee’s Head, the start of Wainwright’s famous Coast-to-Coast walk.

Today, the energy and nuclear industries, based around the nuclear complex at Sellafield, are vital to the area. They provide over 20,000 jobs and give West Cumbria contact with international companies, technologies and communities around the world. For scientists, technologists and engineers, West Cumbria is a great place to work, with genuinely global opportunities. With UCLan’s Westlakes campus, the Samuel Lindow Foundation and the University of Manchester’s Dalton Cumbria facility, West Cumbria has one of the highest concentrations of research-degree holders in the UK.

As part of the ‘British Energy Coast’ regeneration initiative, West Cumbria aims to establish itself as a major generator of low carbon and renewable energy. The area hopes to provide new, exciting opportunities for businesses and inward investors, and sustain its long-established local communities.