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NZMA supports students' concerns

The New Zealand Medical Association strongly supports the concerns of medical students in Auckland and Dunedin who are holding rallies today.

"Students from Auckland Medical School could face fees of more than $10,000 next year," said Dr John Adams, Acting Chairman of the NZMA. Students from Otago paid more than $9000 this year.

"High fees, combined with a course length of six years and an inflexible loan scheme, means these students will face extreme financial hardship and potentially graduate with debts the size of home mortgages," Dr Adams said.

"Many may choose to work in Australia or other countries where they can earn more money after they graduate. This is a huge waste of New Zealand taxpayers' funds."

Doctors may focus their career pathways on higher income specialties. Fewer graduates may choose lower paid specialties, such as general practice. Existing problems, such as difficulties employing rural GPs, will worsen.

Long-term, potential students may choose not to take up medicine because of the financial hardship, Dr Adams said. Students may choose other professional courses, such as law or accounting, which are shorter and cheaper and have similar earning prospects to medicine.

"The financial burden will make it even more difficult for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who are vitally important as their communities tend to have the highest health needs," Dr Adams said.

"Ultimately, the cost of health care to New Zealanders is likely to increase long-term as students pay back their huge loans."

The NZMA hopes the political parties take note of the students' concerns and implement positive changes.

ends

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