West Cumberland Medical Education Centre

The West Cumberland Medical Education Centre (WCMEC) is a research, teaching and medical education facility led by senior clinical academics with a background in acute medicine and primary care in West Cumbria. This is an innovative collaboration between North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Studernt with skeleton

WCMEC combines academic facilities at UCLan’s Westlakes campus and neighbouring clinical facilities at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, providing a unique opportunity to deliver innovative improvements in remote and rural healthcare and new integrated models of care for the local area.

Facilities at our Westlakes Campus

  • Dedicated clinical skills suite for WCMEC students
  • On-site high-spec laboratory spaces for practical teaching and demonstrations
  • A lecture theatre with the capacity for up to 100 people
  • A design and simulation computer laboratory equipped with high-end computers and state-of-the-art software
  • A dedicated business incubator and business support centre
  • An onsite café selling Costa Coffee and serving hot and cold food

WCMEC combines academic facilities at UCLan’s Westlakes campus and neighbouring clinical facilities at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, providing a unique opportunity to deliver innovative improvements in remote and rural healthcare and new integrated models of care for the local area.

This bespoke, local facility will train West Cumbria’s clinical workforce, train and develop leading-edge doctors, medical students and physician associates as well as offering courses at undergraduate including foundation programmes, postgraduate and continuing professional development levels.

The ambition for West Cumberland Medical Education Centre also includes the delivery of short courses and postgraduate training opportunities for the local NHS workforce as part of continuous professional development.

A number of public lectures will be delivered at the site and relationships with local schools and colleges will be enhanced to help local students explore the career possibilities available within the health sector.

West Lakes mixed images

Useful Links

Inspiring film from one of our partner NHS Trusts Cumbria Learning and Improvement Collaborative (CLIC), showing the potential of working in the area as a doctor.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

Copeland – ‘Open for Business’ | Introduction Film 2015 from Adamedia on Vimeo.

West Cumberland Medical Education Centre Staff

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.


Dr Valerie Smart

Dr Valerie SmartVal Smart is the Project Manager based at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre, where she is involved in the development of a range of courses across the campus. Her background includes a career in biochemistry and genetics research as well as being involved in education.


Steve Minto

Steven MintoSteve Minto is the Project Administrative Assistant based at West Cumberland Medical Education Centre, where he provides support to the academic staff and Project 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 academic lead for the Physician Associate programme of the West Cumberland Medical education centre. 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 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.”

Tom Bell

Tom BellTom is the newly appointed Project Manager at the University of Central Lancashire’s West Cumbria Medical Education Centre. His role is to help the University develop the concept of a Digital Health Institute to support the delivery of healthcare in remote and rural areas including Cumbria. This will involve engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, health providers and healthcare users.

Tom has a good mix of programme and project management experience and a track-record of developing effective partnerships in the private, public and plural sectors. He has worked in manufacturing, telecoms, brewing, business support and the NHS.

Venus Alae Carew

Venus Alae CarewVenus Carew is the statistics and mathematics lecturer on the Foundation course on Medical Sciences . She has been a maths lecturer in the Higher Education sector for over 10 years and a maths teacher educator for the last 8 years.



Dr Iwan Fletcher

Dr Iwan FletcherIwan Fletcher is a recently qualified GP with an interest in remote and rural medicine working at Seascale Health Centre, and as a Clinical Fellow in Rural Medicine based at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre.

Dr Catherine Blyth

Catherine currently works part time as a GP in a rural practice in West Cumbria. She has recently started working for UCLan at the West Cumbria Education Centre in Whitehaven and will be involved in teaching clinical skills.

WCMEC students and staff