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CQUni welcomes roundtable on proposed medical program

Published:21 March 2019

At the MOU signing: Back: Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles, CQ Hospital and Health Board Chair Paul Bell. Seated: The University of Queensland Faculty of Medicine Executive Dean Professor Geoff McColl, Wide Bay HHS Chief Executive Adrian Pennington, CQHHS Chief Executive Steve Williamson, and CQ University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Strategic Development Professor Fiona Coulson.

A medical program for Central Queensland and Wide Bay is one step closer to becoming reality, with discussions progressing between government and industry at a roundtable this week.

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

Representatives from CQUniversity Australia, The University of Queensland, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service signed a commitment to work together to ensure the medical program becomes a reality.

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

“We know that our capacity to provide quality care and ensure patient safety into the future is dependent upon the availability of a skilled workforce.

“This program could change the face of rural doctor recruitment and retention by providing top-class opportunities for bright young students in their local area.

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

“Essentially, it would see CQUniversity, UQ and the hospital and health services partner to deliver a full medical program out of the Bundaberg and Rockhampton regions.”

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.

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.”

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.”

The roundtable was 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.