New medical school in Western Australia the “worst decision in decades”

The Australian Medical Association’s Western Australian branch has called it the “worst decision in decades.

The Australian Medical Association National President A/Prof Brian Owler has been criticised for his colourful language in opposing it by Treasurer Joe Hockey.

The Australian Medical Students’ Association has called for the Federal Government to redirect funding towards increasing positions in vocational training programs with their #Fixitdontfloodit campaign.

The proposed medical school for Curtin University, which has been supported by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is definitely not supported by members of the medical community.

Perth new medical school

Following is an overview of what’s happening around the country.

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

A/Prof Brian Owler has said that “There is no evidence for the need of a new medical school anywhere in Australia right now. We need training places, not new medical schools.”

“This week’s Federal Budget revealed yet again that the States and Territories are in urgent need of funding for their public hospitals and funding to support their exiting medical workforce, not a new medical school for students with little hope of getting a job at the end of their training.”

 

Australian Medical Association Western Australia (AMA WA)

AMA WA President Dr Michael Gannon has labelled the announcement about the new medical school as “bad for patient care, bad for education and bad for Western Australia’s finances.”

Dr Gannon believes that “Promises on getting more doctors into rural areas will not be met by this decision” and also notes that WA Premier Colin Barrett and Prime Minister Tony Abbott would have “retired by the time this irresponsible decision will have the worst impact when graduates are told there are no training places for them and no jobs.”

 

Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA)

AMSA has called for the $20 million Tony Abbott has pledged for the Curtin University medical school to be redirected into relieving the bottleneck in training positions for junior doctors.

AMSA President James Lawlor said that in 2014 “The applications for General Practice training positions in Western Australia were oversubscribed by 84 places.
“This means that junior doctors are waiting to begin their training as GP’s but can’t due to the lack of training places available.

“In order to produce more doctors, an increase in the number of medical students must be coupled with a proportionate increase in vocational training positions for medical graduates.

“Medical students are a significant investment – it costs the government over $100,000 to train each medical student. In order to get the best return on this investment, there must be enough training places for graduates to complete their training and serve the community effectively.

AMSA have produced an infographic, which they are calling on medical students to share, as well as encouraging students to contact their local Members of Parliament.

Infographic made available by AMSA.

Infographic made available by AMSA.

 

Instead of “flooding” the training pipeline with more medical graduates, AMSA are calling for the Federal Government to fix the bottleneck. Hence the campaign #fixitdontfloodit.

It’s time to fix the training pipeline. http://amsa.co/fixitdontflooditToday, medical students from around Australia…

Posted by Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) on Sunday, 17 May 2015

 

Medical Students from Western Australia’s two current medical schools

The Western Australian Medical Students’ Society (WAMSS – from the University of Western Australia) and the Medical Students’ Association of Notre Dame (MSAND – from Notre Dame University’s Fremantle Campus) joined forces with the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) to express concerns about a new medical school worsening the medical workforce crisis.

In a joint media release, the student associations have said that the number of medical graduates in Western Australia has tripled from 107 in 2004 to a projected 337 by the end of 2015.

Mez Nuthall, MSAND President said that “Without further investment in training infrastructure, this new school won’t increase the number of doctors serving our community – it will simply increase the number of half-trained doctors.”

WAMSS President Mr Kiran Narula said that ““As yet, no data has demonstrated additional capacity in WA to provide quality training for expanded cohorts, without compromising the quality of training for students enrolled in existing medical programs.”

 

New South Wales Medical Students’ Council (NSWMSC)

The NSWMSC are concerned about the flow-on effect of the increased number of medical graduates coming from Western Australia in the future.

ANMF 2014 graduate nurse and midwife questionnaireNSWMSC Chair Neel Gobin has said ““NSW has the most medical students of all states in Australia and will produce approximately 1,000 graduates in 2015. Based on the current number of training positions in WA, students from the proposed Curtin University Medical School will eventually have to seek an internship position interstate – joining the backlog in the NSW health system. This will lead to more NSW-trained graduates left without a job or with even fewer opportunities for necessary postgraduate training.”

 

Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand (MDANZ)

MDANZ have said that they are dismayed to see the Federal Government committing public money to build a new urban medical school in Western Australia.

According to MDANZ, “Several medical schools have developed proposals to expand the rural recruitment and training of medical students and assist in the regional vocational training of doctors to address this problem for a fraction of the cost of the new city-based school but have been told ‘there is no money’.”

Professor Peter Smith, President of MDANZ has said that “the answer to Australia’s rural and regional health problems is not the establishment of small, new, expensive urban medical schools, whether in WA or in other states. Medical Deans is ready to work with government to help address the unfairness in health outcomes for people in the bush.”

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Perth skyline image – Robert Young – Flickr

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