The proposed Waikato medical school is shaping up to be a key issue in the lead-up to this year’s general election.
Currently the proposal, a joint initiative between Waikato University and the Waikato DHB, is being considered by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith.
Prime Minister Bill English has declined to say whether a decision on the proposal will be made before the election on September 23.
Today, Hamilton’s MPs and aspiring parliamentarians give their views on Waikato’s bold med school bid.
* Prime Minister Bill English steps into Waikato med school debate
* Waikato backers look to pick up medical school baton
* Waikato wants a medical school: university and health board put request to Government
Macindoe is “100 per cent” in favour of the med school proposal and said he has been backing it strongly for the past few months.
“I think it’s one of the most significant and exciting opportunities our region has seen in recent years, and it could be of enormous benefit to the wider Waikato region as well as many hard-to-staff … areas of the country,” he said.
The Waikato med school proposal is based on a proven international model that has worked in Northern Ontario, Canada, and Australia.
Macindoe said the Waikato proposal’s business case is compelling given the current shortage of doctors in New Zealand’s rural and provincial areas. The shortage is forecast to intensify in the future.
Waikato Hospital already has a lot of the infrastructure and training support needed for a med school.
“I’m encouraged by the strong financial support that has already been pledged by Sir Owen Glenn and, if a decision hasn’t been made before the election, I will continue to promote its merits to my Government colleagues,” Macindoe said.
Strange has informed Waikato University Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley he will advocate on behalf of the med school proposal.
A Hamilton-based med school will be excellent for the wider region, he said.
Strange will lobby Labour’s leadership to support the Waikato bid but wants assurances the medical school will not draw funds away from other faculties at Waikato University.
“It’s certainly quite complex for Labour because the leadership are currently considering the proposal. If Labour win the election in September, and if I get into Parliament, I will be a voice for our region for this school.”
Strange said Auckland and Otago med schools’ opposition to the Waikato bid wasn’t without precedent.
Auckland University unsuccessfully opposed the formation of Waikato University during the 1950s and 1960s. The university opened in 1964.
“In the late 1980s, Auckland University opposed the formation of the Waikato University law school. Again, through perserverance, this school was established in 1990.”
Bennett said there is a need for more rural doctors which the Waikato bid aims to address.
“We have been in active discussions with the university around this many years ago and it’s great to see that with Neil [Quigley] coming on board as vice-chancellor, he’s taken it to the next level and got a physical proposal in front of Parliament,” he said.
“It’s a decision of national significance so it will be made by the Minister of Health.
“I think you’ve seen that the National MPs have been very supportive of the progress of the idea compared to our opposition, which has made it clear that they’re not supportive of the proposal.
“Certainly, from a local perspective, it would be a great initiative for the Waikato and especially for the university, which is very important to Hamilton and to my electorate.”
* Hamilton-based Labour list MP Sue Moroney and NZ First list MP Barbara Stewart did not respond to media requests for comment.