EXCLUSIVE: $5.4 million boost for regional medical program
THE Wide Bay region will receive nearly three million dollars in funding over the next three years with the state government funding Queensland's Regional Medical Program.
$5.4 million in total will be invested during that time, split 50:50 between Wide Bay and Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services.
Minister for Health Steven Miles said the funding would be used to support the development of the regional medical program and help bring doctors to the regions.
"A medical program in Central Queensland and Wide Bay would enable medical students to complete their education in the region," Mr Miles said.
"We know doctors and medical staff who have trained at regional hospitals are more likely to continue on working in the same hospitals.
"This medical program is not only great news for local aspiring doctors but will also ensure we can sustain a highly trained workforce in regional public hospitals such as Rockhampton and Bundaberg."
Mr Miles said he expected to see up to 30 students trained in each region by 2022.
"I've had several senior doctors say they'd wished a program like this existed for them early on, as they'd have loved to have lived and worked locally without uprooting their lives for the big smoke," he said.
"The funding is the culmination of months of hard work between the two regional health services, the University of Queensland and CQUniversity Australia, in close partnership with the state's top doc, Dr Jeannette Young PSM."
Mr Miles said credit was due to the tertiary partners of the program for the significant work and consultation that had gone into planning already.
"Without the work undertaken by The University of Queensland and CQUniversity, this program would only be a pipedream and I acknowledge their tenacity in 'backing the bush' alongside the Palaszczuk Government," he said.
"The Palaszczuk Government promised to deliver when it came to improving regional health care and this funding is proof of our commitment."
Speaking on behalf of the state government, Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said the medical program was a huge step forward for the region and for students who would not have to move to metropolitan centres to learn.
"Hospitals like Bundaberg, Maryborough and Hervey Bay will be able to employ and retain more permanent, local doctors," Mr Saunders said.
"I'm very proud our Government is supporting the next generation of young doctors dedicating their lives to helping others."
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Acting Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said the funding was welcomed by all and would take healthcare delivery from strength to strength.
"This funding will help our team contribute to the planning for a local medical program, which will enhance the recruitment and retention of doctors to the Wide Bay," Ms Carroll said.
"Having a medical program in the Wide Bay will not only benefit WBHHS, but also other health providers who will gain locally trained staff committed to our region.
"It will also be a great recruitment tool for senior doctors, who will have supervision, research and teaching opportunities."