- Thursday 27 April 2017
While there are many questions still unanswered as to whether the promised medical school at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital will go ahead, Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson has paid tribute to the support council received from the community earlier this year in sending a message to the Federal Government on the importance of securing the required medical school places.
Earlier today (April 27), Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie and Federal Members Andrew Wallace and Ted O’Brien announced that the Commonwealth would collaboratively support 50 students to facilitate the establishment of a full medical school on the Sunshine Coast.
However, Griffith University has now confirmed no additional Commonwealth supported places have been offered to support a four year medical school program at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at this time and that it will need to recruit full fee paying international students to ensure the additional 15 required places are funded.
Griffith University also stated it would consider the Commonwealth’s proposal in June and would not to confirm if the medical school will proceed.
Mayor Jamieson said the prospect of a medical school being established for the start of the 2019 university year was looking increasingly remote – if it went ahead at all.
“Earlier this year, as I went about the community, I was buoyed by the level of interest this issue was generating and the overwhelming view that the region should be allocated the required medical school placements,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“To the almost 1300 people who made a submission to the Federal Government as part of council’s #OperationMedSchool campaign, I extend our council’s thanks for adding your voice to that of our own.
“As I made clear at the time, it is council’s role to represent the current and future interests of the Sunshine Coast residents and this is what we were doing in encouraging our community to advocate to the Commonwealth for the additional medical school places.
“The reality is that if this matter had been resolved three years earlier, there would have been no need for our #OperationMedSchool campaign.
“Further, the solution that now appears to be on offer – filling additional placements with full fee paying international students – could easily have been established some years ago.
“Earlier this year, I promised that once a decision had been made by the Federal Government, I would release council’s total expenditure on the campaign.
“While this matter is still a long way from being resolved, I am a man who keeps his word.
“The $46,500 council spent on this campaign is minimal compared to the loss the region will experience if the medical school does not go ahead.
“Council’s investment in the campaign equates to just under 16 cents for every resident and represents approximately 1.7% of the value of the direct investment in funded medical school places needed to be made by the Commonwealth – if the medical school proceeds.
“If the medical school does not go ahead, this will represent a loss of some $2.7 million in direct Commonwealth support for the region.
“On top of that, there will be a significant loss in both economic benefit to the region in not hosting its own medical school plus continuing costs for the families of students who are forced to travel and/or reside elsewhere to study for their medical degree.
“Neither I, nor my fellow councillors, were prepared to allow that to happen and that is why we felt it was important to get the community involved.
“We were promised a tertiary teaching hospital as part of the University Hospital.
“We deserve nothing less, hence we consider the campaign to be a worthwhile investment in the future of our region.”
Mayor Jamieson also renewed his call for the Federal Government to release the full findings and costs of the national review when it is completed, given the well-documented oversupply of doctors in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania and the undersupply in Queensland, and particularly regional areas.
“I have said all along the review was unnecessary and would only provide something that everyone already knew the answer to.
“So it is only proper that the Commonwealth be transparent and release the full cost to the taxpayer of diverting Commonwealth staff and resources to undertake this review,” he said.