Alternatives to National’s Waikato medical school, uni says

The University of Otago medical school. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The University of Otago medical school. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The University of Otago is calling for a rethink on the incoming government’s proposal for a new medical school at Waikato University.

National Party health spokesman Dr Shane Reti had previously spoken in favour of a third medical school, based at Waikato.

He has said the new medical school would have clinical training alliances with other universities and medical facilities around regional New Zealand.

Dr Reti has said this was a model that would deliver more doctors committed to serving in provincial and rural parts of the country.

Otago University and the University of Auckland are the medical schools for the country.

When the Otago Daily Times contacted Otago University, acting vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson was less convinced about the need for a third medical school.

"We believe that the additional medical places required for this country can likely potentially be provided more quickly and at significantly lower cost by investing in additional capacity at the existing medical schools," Prof Nicholson said.

"We believe there should be an open and robust process that allows the case to be made for this as an alternative option, for both options to be assessed and presented to the government for a transparent, evidence-based decision."

In policy documents released before the election, National said despite being relatively large by international standards, the Auckland and Otago medical schools did not produce enough doctors to meet New Zealand’s health workforce demands.

"New Zealand has one medical school for every 2.6million people.

"That compares [with] one for every 2.1m people in the [United States], one for every 1.5m people in the [United Kingdom] and one for every 1.2m people in Australia," the policy document said.

National has previously said it would provide up to $300m in capital to establish the medical school, with the first intake proposed for 2027.

When it was last in government, it had pushed forward with the idea, but the Labour government canned the proposal in 2018.

When the Otago Daily Times approached National about its plans, a spokeswoman yesterday said it first had to form a government and appoint ministers, who would meet government department heads and start the process.