Sunday Territorian

NT needs own medical program


AS THE health challenges of the

Territory increase, we need more doctors graduating in the NT and we need to provide better health care for all Territoria­ns.

One of the greatest barriers to providing quality health care services is producing a well-qualified health workforce. Experience from elsewhere in Northern Australia has demonstrat­ed that this is best done by doing it locally.

It is quite strange and remarkable that the NT which is six times the size of the UK and has unique and pressing medical challenges does not have its own local medical school. Even Wagga Wagga and Rockhampto­n are getting their own schools and yet one of the capital cities of Australia does not have one.

I also find it remarkable that we are the only state or territory with no commonweal­th-funded medical places. The NTG puts NT money into medical training – no other state or territory has to do this. All of this must change.

CDU has decided to do everything in its power to establish, in partnershi­p with Menzies, an authentic, autonomous medical school based here in the NT.

This program will relieve the burden on our dedicated medical workforce and create hundreds of opportunit­ies for doctors in the Territory.

The opportunit­y to expand general practice and rural medicine training, consultant medical training and health research will be enhanced through a new Northern Australian Health Workforce Alliance. The plan is to have an AMC accredited program with a curriculum that is guided by local clinicians’ communitie­s and academics.

It will be a medical school with a Dean of Medicine here in Darwin and a major presence in Alice Springs and across the NT. It will be a program that focuses on the health challenges of the NT that offers lifelong learning opportunit­ies for doctors in the NT. We also know from experience that a local medical school will not only drive health care provision, it will also drive economic growth in the NT. We have appointed a Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Medicine and Health Developmen­t Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski, an expert in regional and remote medical education to head up this developmen­t.

We have applied to the commonweal­th for 40 medical places and are working closely with local clinicians to establish what they would like to see from a local program.

The CDU/Menzies Medical Program, along with an expansion of our nursing and allied health programs, will be a game-changer for the NT.

We’d like to take our first intake in 2023 and have an autonomous medical school in five to ten years.

The time is now right to fulfil the intent, voiced many years ago, to establish an authentic, NT focused, medical program led by NT’s institutio­ns and medical experts.

The best years in NT medical education are now ahead of us.

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