No medical school at new hospital a 'tragedy' for Coast

THE head of the University of the Sunshine Coast says it will be a "tragedy" if the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital opens without a fully-fledged medical school.

USC vice chancellor Professor Greg Hill said it made sense to train the doctors of the future at Australia's newest hospital.

"Why wouldn't you want the newest hospital in Australia to train the next generation of doctors?" he said.

Professor Hill's comments came after state Health Minister Cameron Dick's announced this week that the hospital was yet to sign a university to fund a medical school on site because of a lack of funded places.

Mr Dick said 35 places would be transferred from elsewhere but 50 were needed for a viable medical school, leaving a shortfall of 15.

Queensland Health has offered 50% of the funding for the extra places but the Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley says Australia is headed for an oversupply of doctors in the medium term which did not justify funding more medical school places.

The funding shortfall means that the SCUH hospital will still open as a teaching hospital but will only be able to take students in their 3rd and 4th year instead of their whole degree.

The provision of medical school services at the new hospital has remained unresolved since 2013 when Queensland University pulled out of an agreement which would have involved the transfer of training places.

The USC has an undergraduate medical degree on hold because of the lack of a university partner to provide a medical school.

"We don't have a medical school in Australia's newest technology hospital - it's a bit of a tragedy to me," Prof Hill said.

Member for Fairfax Ted O'Brien has dismissed Mr Dick's statement about funding as playing politics and said work was being done to secure the outstanding funding for the necessary medical school places.

"The real issue here is that there seems to be an assumption that there are too many GPs in the country which is putting downward pressure on issuing new places for medical students," Mr O'Brien said.

"While I'm not in a position to say if that's right or not, I'm still of the view that regional and rural areas like the Sunshine Coast don't get enough GPs and Kenilworth, where they haven't got a doctor, is evidence of that," he said.

Mr O'Brien said the government was assessing the allocation of medical school place and work was underway to "ensure the Sunshine Coast becomes a winner of that assessment process."

Maureen Mileham, the chair of the University of the Sunshine Coast Action Group, said she was surprised there had not been a full  commitment to fund medical school places at SCUH from the start and she said the group would campaign for funding if necessary.

She said a fully-fledged medical school was necessary for the hospital to fulfil its potential.

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