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Third medical school not in national interest

University of Auckland

18 October 2016

Third medical school not in national interest

The University of Auckland has hit out at a potentially costly proposal for a third medical school in New Zealand.

Speaking on Waikato University’s proposal to create a third medical school, Dean of the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, Professor John Fraser called the plan ill-conceived and unwarranted.

Professor Fraser says: “A new programme is simply not in the national interest and tax payers will have to pay for what is an ill-considered and expensive folly. The existing programmes at Auckland and Otago are already meeting the needs for growth of doctors for New Zealand.”

Medical student numbers are growing as part of the government’s long-term plan to increase the supply of doctors. By 2020 New Zealand is on course to produce 570 graduates annually.

Waikato’s argument that the existing medical programmes based at Auckland and Otago are not producing the right kinds of doctors is simply not true and reflects a naïve assumption that careful planning has not occurred to address the workforce shortage they purport to address.

“Evidence indicates that a bespoke programme providing an alternative education path specifically to rural general practice, does not generate larger numbers of graduates committed to being a rural GP.

“What international evidence does indicate is that selecting medical students from rural and regional backgrounds and providing them with a quality rural experience, encourages them to return to those regions to work as doctors,” says Professor Fraser.

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New Zealand is already addressing a lack of rural doctors with long-term rural placements of about 250 students/year in the Auckland programme.

For 20 years the University has had a clinical campus in the Waikato with other clinical campuses for training medical students at Whangarei, Whakatane, Tauranga and Taranaki hospitals. Expansion of the programmes at Tauranga and Taranaki is planned for 2017 and 2018.

The University is concerned that the proposal would end a long-standing partnership with Waikato District Health Board and would effectively displace 150 medical students now training at Waikato Hospital, with nowhere for them to go.

“Introducing another 240 medical students into a medical training system that is already under severe pressure to provide training places can only be considered foolhardy.

“The cost of establishing a medical programme should not be underestimated, so this should be seriously considered only when a clear national need has been argued,” says Professor Fraser.


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