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CUllen: Opening of the Hawkes Bay Teaching DHB

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister for Tertiary Education, Leader of the House

17 February 2006 Speech Notes


Official opening of the Hawkes Bay Teaching DHB


Hawkes Bay Hospital, Hastings

It is a great pleasure for me, both as Minister for Tertiary Education, and as a locally based MP to take part in this opening ceremony.

The benefits of the Hawkes Bay Teaching DHB will be spread far and wide. For the Hawkes Bay DHB it means an important practical step towards achieving its goal of becoming a learning organisation. As a result of the teaching programmes that will be operating within the DHB, you will be able to offer qualified staff the kind of stimulating professional environment that they value and attract and retain staff within the Hawkes Bay health service.

For medical students it means an opportunity to be taught in the context of hands-on experience in a diverse community with a mix of rural and urban populations. This is in contrast to the largely urban environment of most teaching hospitals. Medical students will also get to enjoy the pleasures of living in the bay, assuming they are allowed any free time, and perhaps this will encourage a good number of them to see the region as an ideal place in which to pursue their professional career.

And of course, the people of the Hawkes Bay will benefit from a higher quality of health care through a more motivated health care community, and the opportunity for research to be undertaken into regional health issues.

Today marks the culmination of years of planning and preparatory work for Chris Clarke, his team at Hawkes Bay DHB and the University of Otago’s Wellington School of Medicine. Creating a new institution such as this one is an immense task that involves marshalling resources, forming working partnerships and addressing issues of long term quality and sustainability. I would like to commend all of those who have worked so hard to bring the Teaching DHB into existence.

As Tertiary Education Minister, I can say that this is exactly the kind of collaborative venture that is needed to enhance both the quality and the relevance of our tertiary education system. It is often assumed that when we talk about quality in tertiary education, we mean something about how shiny our ivory towers are compared to those of major institutions overseas. I would not exclude that notion altogether. We need to be aware of international benchmarking.

However, quality is as much about delivering education that combines theory and practice in such a way as to produce graduates who are equipped to address the needs of communities in innovative ways. In medicine this means graduates who have mastered the academic disciplines, but who are also fired with enthusiasm towards working with individuals, families and whole communities to address issues of ill health and develop healthier lifestyles.

Providing that added dimension of quality is one of the important challenges of the Hawkes Bay Teaching DHB.

Health care is a challenging career choice. Far from being a matter of learning a set of skills and applying them for 40 years or so, it requires understanding changes in demography, in technology, in ethics and in good professional practice. For employers, it is increasingly a challenge to deal with a thoroughly globalised workforce, and to attract and retain staff who have the right qualifications and motivation to serve the community.

One thing we do know is that in New Zealand we will always need to work hard to maintain the workforce we need. That is something the government is acutely aware of, and we are announcing today one further initiative in that regard. We intend to review the regime for funding training in medicine and dentistry to ensure that it fairly reflects the costs of delivering tuition and enables providers to keep fees at a level that encourages study and does not lead to unmanageable levels of debt upon graduation.

This review will run parallel to the broader review of tertiary funding that will be the subject of general announcements in March. I have asked for the review of medical and dental training funding to be completed by the end of this year so that any changes can be implemented for the 2007 academic year.

Funding is only one part of the picture, albeit an important one. As I said earlier, it is very important that New Zealand medical schools offer students programmes that place the academic disciplines close to the social realities in which they will be applied. The Hawkes Bay Teaching DHB is an important step towards that and I know you will all join with me in heartily welcoming today’s opening.

Thank you.

ENDS

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