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Controversy over hospitals and universities diverting funds

11 October, 2006

The Australian Medical Students' Association is calling for an investigation into claims that hospitals and universities are diverting funds away from clinical training.

AMSA president, Teresa Cosgriff, said it is essential that money earmarked for resources for students reach its destination.

"The basis of training to become a doctor is hands-on experience,'" Cosgriff said. "Teaching hospitals must be equipped to provide resources to meet the requirements of medical students. Funding of student training must be a budget priority."

AMSA also called on universities to direct adequate funds to the teaching hospitals that provide training for medical students.

"There is a lack of transparency when it comes to funds allocated to medical student traing," Cosgriff said. "Universityies and hospitals must keep this money for training and not allocate it to other areas."

Cosgriff acknowledge that public hospitals may be pressured into channelling these funds to patient care.

"First and foremost the role of a hospital is to treat patients, but we have to think: who's going to be treating these patients in the future? Supporting education now is supporting the futrue health care of this country."

"We need a forward-looking model that puts training of future doctos as a high priority,'"Cosgriff said. "Hospitals must receive the funding necessary to treat patients now and set the foundations for future patient care."

The push for more transparency in funding comes after announcements this year of 600 new medical student places around the country.

"When we take into account the impending tsunami of medical students about to enter hospital training, it is clear that resolving funding arrangements must be a matter of urgency," Cosgriff said.

In a recent survey of medical students conducted by AMSA, 85 percent expressed concern that more medical students would adversely impact the quality of their clinical education.

"97 pecent of students believe that clinical teaching is more effective in small groups,'"Cosgriff said: "If a hospital is struggling to teach a group of 10 medical students, how will it cope when this number doubles?"

"The Federal Government must ensure that the states are holding their end of the bargain. Failure is not an option."