EQUITY in medical services between the city and country will remain an elusive dream unless the proposed Murray Darling Medical School is approved, Andrew Gee MP told federal politicians on Tuesday.
The Federal Member for Calare has long pushed for the school to receive funding so it could be established.
In his speech, he told his political colleagues that the time had come to end the disparity in health outcomes between metropolitan and regional Australians.
He said the school, which was a joint initiative of Charles Sturt University (CSU) and La Trobe University, would help ease doctor shortages in the bush.
“There is a chronic shortage of doctors in country Australia. This is well known and it has been a source of great concern to country communities everywhere,” Mr Gee said.
“Access to medical professionals and the services they provide is something city people take for granted, but country people know all too well what it's like to go without them.”
Mr Gee said the proposed Murray Darling Medical School would “solve this long running problem by training doctors in the bush for practice in the bush”.
“It [the school] plans to quarantine 80 per cent of the places for students from regional, rural and remote areas, because, as Charles Sturt University has shown with its many other courses, students from the country who are trained in the country are far more likely to work in regional Australia after they graduate,” he said.
“The course work at the Murray Darling Medical School would specifically prepare students for future practice in rural communities. It's a model that we know works.
“It has been successfully implemented by James Cook University in North Queensland.”
Until we solve this long-running problem of getting doctors to practice in the bush, equity in medical services between city and country will remain an elusive dream.Member for Calare Andrew Gee
Mr Gee said CSU was already “leading the way in training the next generation of country health professionals”.
“As the lead partner in the Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health, it is training graduates in occupational therapy, radiation services, nursing, physiotherapy, pharmacy, podiatry, para-medicine and social work,” he said.
“In recent years, there has been much work to close the great divide in medical services between the city and country.
“But, until we solve this long-running problem of getting doctors to practice in the bush, equity in medical services between city and country will remain an elusive dream.
“The time for the Murray Darling Medical School and equity for rural patients has come.”
The Western Advocate reported on June 27 this year that supporters of the Murray Darling Medical School want 180 student places in other universities transferred to the proposed new school.