Bob Simcock, Chair of Waikato District Health Board has responded to today’s government announcement of a new School of Rural Medicine to be established. He said: “The Waikato DHB is pleased to see that the government has recognised the need to train more doctors – with a specific goal of meeting the needs of high needs and rural communities. Being placed at the centre of New Zealand’s highest need rural region the Waikato DHB sees the development of a new medical school as a game changer for the training of health professionals who will meet the needs of the health sector.
“We are strongly committed to our partnership with the University of Waikato. This is because the Waikato proposal is fundamentally different from the Auckland and Otago bid, in that it is for a community-engaged programme. This means that the University forms a genuine partnership with health providers, the communities they serve and our Māori partners in selecting and training the doctors of the future.
“It is essential that any new medical school is a partnership between the health sector and university sector. The incentives that drive universities have failed to meet community needs in health education for many years. Only a partnership with health will ensure that doesn’t happen again.
“One of our immediate concerns is the lack of capacity within general practice. The demands of an increasing and ageing population are already putting pressure on our hospitals. The welcome announcements by both major parties of policies to improve access to GPs will put further strain on the capacity in primary care. A fundamentally new program gives the best opportunity to work with the health sector in developing a training program that is committed to new ways of meeting our challenges. This includes selecting a different sort of student, basing more of the student experience in rural communities, emphasising team work and the use of new technologies but most importantly in putting the health needs of people and their communities at the centre.
“The DHB, in partnership with the University of Waikato look forward to having the opportunity to put forward our bid for a fresh and innovative medical programme to the new Government in 2018.”
Read the Government’s media release on the announcement: A School of Rural Medicine to be established