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The Government’s decision to scrap a proposed School of Rural Medicine is another blow to the provision of health services for communities in Otago, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.

“Our region is already struggling with GP staffing issues, a lack of after-hours care in Central Otago and a shortage of midwives in Wanaka. Now the Government has dumped an initiative that could have helped these communities.

“This is a sad day for rural health and a reflection of a Health Minister who is clearly completely out of touch with the regions.

“It's common knowledge that there are huge challenges attracting and retaining health professionals in some Otago communities, so why would the Health Minister destroy the one thing that could have helped. 

“The National Government last year pledged to create the school in a bid to attract more doctors to the regions. I can only assume that this shutdown by David Clark is either political jealously or sheer stupidity.

“Communities and health professionals around Otago will be horrified by this announcement.

“They know that many communities are in very tenuous situations in regards to maintaining a primary health service and this cut is only likely to exasperate their concerns.

“Mr Clark says training more doctors isn’t the complete solution to scarce health services in rural areas, but he fails to accept it could make a substantial difference.

“We need to make our rural health workforce more sustainable but scrapping the Rural School of Medicine takes us in the wrong direction.”

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