Waikato councils have publicly backed a proposal for a third New Zealand medical school.
The joint proposal from the University of Waikato and the Waikato District Health Board to establish a medical school in the region, was discussed at a meeting of the Mayoral Forum in Hamilton yesterday (Monday 10 April).
The forum – which includes the region’s mayors and regional council chair – resolved to unanimously support the proposal and called on the Government to approve the Waikato Medical School with urgency.
Waikato regional councillor and forum chair, Alan Livingston, said: “As mayors of the Waikato region, one of the most rural regions in the country, we are more aware than most of the significant adverse effects the health workforce shortages in provincial and rural areas are having on our communities.
“The proposed medical school will put the right doctors in the right communities, with doctors having an affinity with regional New Zealand and a real desire to provide health care to them.”
The community-engaged, graduate entry medical school has been proposed to address the region’s health workforce shortages and community health needs by producing doctors who are more representative of the communities they serve and will focus on the healthcare of high needs populations.
A post graduate entry school, it will allow more people to train as doctors and stop the over-reliance on overseas trained clinicians. It will also focus on selecting students who are committed to meeting the health care needs of people living outside the main centres.
Students will undertake a higher proportion of clinical placements in community settings, helping them get a real understanding of the community and a desire to work there.
Mr Livingston said: “We know that many of the people in our communities have difficulty accessing healthcare and end up with delayed treatment and poor health. Lots of our rural GPs are retiring and there’s no one to replace them – we need a new type of doctor who wants to do this type of work.
“This sort of approach has worked overseas and it will work here. We have a healthcare crisis in our communities and we need to start addressing it now.”
The medical school proposal is being considered by the Government.