Opposition to medical school
Auckland and Otago medical school heads began a covert campaign against a proposed Waikato medical school three months before it was revealed to the public.
In October, Waikato University and the Waikato District Health Board announced a bid to establish the country’s third medical school.
The move triggered a sharp rebuttal from Auckland and Otago, who slammed the bid as illconceived and unwarranted.
But new documents released in response to an Official Information Act request by Stuff show the two established med schools began poisoning the ear of government ministers as early as July.
In a July 26 letter, sent to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and then Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, Otago and Auckland express major reservations about the Waikato proposal, labelling it an ‘‘ad hoc initiative’’.
The heads of Auckland and Otago med schools acknowledge the need for a third medical school in the future but say the Waikato proposal doesn’t do justice to the complexities surrounding medical education and training.
In a briefing paper sent to the ministers in December, Auckland and Otago stepped up the pressure, saying the Waikato proposal lacks support from mid-North Island DHBs - a claim rejected by Waikato backers.
‘‘An ad hoc proposal aimed primarily at developing the reputation of an individual university and region but which lacks the support of most, if not all, key health authorities and organis- ations in New Zealand has a high risk of failing,’’ the briefing paper states.
In reply, Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Nigel Murray said he had discussed the med school proposal with the other four Midland health boards. None had spoken against it, he said.
‘‘In our regional meetings we’ve talked about the challenges we face in making general prac- tice viable into the future,’’ Murray said.
In April, the Waikato Mayoral Forum unanimously endorsed the proposal and called on the Government to support it with urgency.
Murray said it was disappointing Auckland and Otago had tried to portray the Waikato proposal as a trophy project.
A letter was sent to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman expressing major reservations about the proposal.