Murray Darling Medical School case taken to health minister

AT THE GATE: Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann and member for Calare Andrew Gee at Parliament House on Tuesday.
AT THE GATE: Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann and member for Calare Andrew Gee at Parliament House on Tuesday.

CHARLES Sturt University (CSU) believes it has sewn up the case for the Murray Darling Medical School (MDMS) after submitting a feasibility study to Minister for Health Greg Hunt.

CSU vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann met with the minister on Tuesday, armed with a consultant’s report concluding hospitals and the wider health system had the capacity to meet the clinical training requirements of its students. 

At full capacity, the MDMS is expected to require about 222,026 high-intensity clinical supervision hours provided by non-university clinicians in New South Wales and 111,012 hours in Victoria. 

The report, provided at the request of the federal government, found by the time the school’s clinical training needs peaked in 2026, the system would have added an estimated additional 645,946 hours of statewide training capacity in NSW, almost three times the hours required in the state, and an extra 753,654 hours in Victoria, almost seven times the need.

“Further, the report estimates that efficiency improvements in the management of clinical training placements has the capacity to release additional clinical training capacity at a statewide level,” the report said.

The report also found the number of training places in non-metropolitan areas alone would cater for the MDMS’ students in both states and metropolitan medical schools would be able to offset any loss in places to the MDMS as growth in the sector created demand for more students.

Professor Vann said capacity was one of the common questions asked in regard to the school’s viability.

“The answer, obviously that we’ve said all along, is yes,” he said.

“We think that’s the final plank in the case, we’re not sure what other questions could be asked.”

Professor Vann said Mr Hunt seemed to be well-briefed on the proposal.

Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie is reviewing medical school placement allocations, due to be complete within the next two months.

Professor Vann said the ideal allocation for the Murray Darling Medical School was 120 in the first year, increasing to 180 within the first five years.

Campuses would include Orange, Wagga Wagga and Bendigo and if placements were allocated now, the school could take its first students in 2019.