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Wide Bay medical program one step closer

A roundtable to progress training doctors in Central Queensland and Wide Bay is taking place in Rockhampton today.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said key stakeholders have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop and deliver a partnership to achieve a medical program in Central Queensland and Wide Bay.

“A medical program in Central Queensland and Wide Bay would enable medical students to complete their entire education in the region,” Minister Miles said.

“We know doctors and medical staff who have trained at regional hospitals are more likely to continue on working in the same hospitals.

“This program could provide top-class opportunities for bright young students in their local area, and ensure we continue to have a highly trained workforce in public hospitals such as Rockhampton and Bundaberg.”

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and said training medical students locally would help keep a strong medical workforce in Wide Bay.

“This means hospitals like Bundaberg, Maryborough and Hervey Bay will be able to employ and retain more permanent, local doctors,” he said.

“It also means aspiring medical students won’t have to move to a bigger city get their education.”

Today representatives from CQUniversity Australia, The University of Queensland, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service will sign a commitment to work together to ensure it becomes a reality.

The plan is to have the medical program in place by 2022, starting with up to 30 students in Central Queensland and up to 30 in Wide Bay; and growing each year to reach at least 120 students in each area by 2026.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson said patients of Wide Bay and Central Queensland would benefit, with local clinicians trained to treat local conditions in local hospitals.

“A more sustainable medical workforce means greater continuity of care and improved health outcomes, which is crucial as our regional communities continue to grow,” Ms Jamieson said.

“A new medical program will also be a great recruitment tool for senior doctors, who will have supervision, research and teaching opportunities.

“That, in turn, would enable our hospital and health services to grow our own doctors, provide a wider range of specialties and improve training at all levels of medical education and development.”

CQHHS Chief Executive Steve Williamson said the program would not only bring about fabulous opportunities for local families, it would also create support roles and boost the local economies of both regions.

“Regional areas have found it difficult to recruit and retain medical staff, as young people in the past had to move away to complete their studies and settled in other areas,” Mr Williamson said.

“If they can train locally and become comfortable in local hospitals there is a far greater chance they will make their careers in Central Queensland or Wide Bay.”

The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine Executive Dean Professor Geoff McColl welcomes the partnership.

“The University of Queensland welcomes the opportunity to work collaboratively on this new partnership to achieve a full medical program which enables medical students to complete the entirety of their medical education within Central Queensland and Wide Bay,” Professor McColl said.

CQUniversity’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Strategic Development, Professor Fiona Coulson, explained that CQUniversity was excited about exploring this partnership opportunity and working with the Central Queensland and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services and the University of Queensland to develop a plan for delivering a local medical program in the regions.

“CQUniversity has always been committed to working with our partners to drive positive outcomes for the communities we serve.

“We will continue to look at the various options and ensure we develop a long-term, sustainable plan that will benefit the regions,” said Professor Coulson.

The roundtable will be attended by Central Queensland and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services executives and staff, CQUniversity, the University of Queensland, Queensland Health, the Commonwealth Department of Health and international experts on regional medical programs.

Last updated: 28 June 2019