Budget choice between new med schools or more med training places

A learned reader suggests newish minister for rural health, Bridget McKenzie did well at Senate estimates hearing, succinctly saying nothing of note – especially about the Murray Darling Medical School. That was wise, give she, like ministers before her, is caught between the Scylla of National Party members, in alliance with Charles Sturt and La Trobe universities, who propose the plan and the Charybdis of medical lobbies and university med schools which oppose it.

But as the budget approaches there is policy perturbation around the idea that the way to lift doctor numbers in the bush is more medical schools, (which the feds fund) as distinct from hospital training places (which the states pay for). Same as there was before the last budget, and the one before that.

In Estimates, Glenys Beauchamp from the Department of Health said her department has been looking at the “allocation of medical places and the health workforce more generally,” since December 2016 and with the Department of Education and Training was, “talking to a range of stakeholders around the assessment of medical schools and places, and we’re in the process, and have been in the process, of consulting—receiving submissions, analysing those.”

This sounds rather like the review of the distribution of medical training places commissioned by former rural health minister David Gillespie in 2016 and Ms Beauchamp added officials would provide advice to government on medical training places on a budget in confidence basis. Probably for this budget and probably involving more universities than La Trobe and Charles Sturt U.


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