Waikato med school gets busi­ness nod

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - AARON LEAMAN

Some of the Waikato’s top busi­ness lead­ers have thrown their sup­port be­hind the re­gion’s bid to es­tab­lish it’s own med­i­cal school based in Hamil­ton.

Mem­bers of Waikato Means Busi­ness have en­dorsed the pro­posed med school, say­ing parts of the re­gion are be­ing held back due to a short­age of health­care work­ers.

In one case, a lack of GPS threat­ened the growth of a South Waikato rest home.

Waikato Means Busi­ness is the name of the re­gion’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy.

Its 10-mem­ber steer­ing group is chaired by high pro­file busi­ness­man Dal­las Fisher.

In a let­ter to Na­tional MPS, Fisher said the Govern­ment should con­sider the Waikato med school bid ‘‘through the lens of not only pri­mary care teach­ing and pro­vi­sion’’, but also eco­nomic, so­cial and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘As you will know, ru­ral towns can strug­gle for sur­vival when they lose es­sen­tial so­cial and com­mu­nity ser­vices, in­clud­ing pri­mary health­care,’’ Fisher said.

Cur­rently, two per­ma­nent doc­tors serve more than 5500 pa­tients across Pu­taruru and Ti­rau.

Govern­ment min­is­ters Jonathan Cole­man and Paul Goldsmith are as­sess­ing the med school pro­posal.

The Waikato bid ad­vo­cates a com­mu­nity-fo­cused ap­proach to health, tak­ing stu­dents with an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree and pro­vid­ing them with four years of prac­ti­cal, in­ten­sive med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

A fo­cus will be on se­lect­ing stu­dents who are will­ing to serve high-needs, ru­ral and pro­vin­cial com­mu­ni­ties.

Steer­ing group mem­ber Gray Bald­win said dif­fi­cul­ties in ac­cess­ing GPS in South Waikato could de­ter busi­nesses set­ting up shop in the district.

Bald­win said Pu­taruru’s Rangiura Rest Home had to look out­side the district to en­sure its res­i­dents had ac­cess to GP care.

‘‘If we had more GPS, we would be able to ex­pand rest home ser­vices in Pu­taruru which is a great busi­ness and gen­er­ates a whole lot of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in town, Bald­win said.

‘‘More and more peo­ple need rest care and we do it re­ally well in South Waikato but med­i­cal ser­vices are a real is­sue.’’

Bald­win, a South Waikato District Coun­cil­lor, said im­prov­ing pri­mary care clin­ics in ru­ral and pro­vin­cial cen­tres would be a pow­er­ful busi­ness en­abler.

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