Waikato med school gets business nod
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.