Australia's largest non-government provider group of health and aged care services has warmly welcomed the Commonwealth's announcement today that it intends to further utilise the expertise in Catholic hospitals to train the doctors of tomorrow through medical internship placements in another three of those facilities.
Health Minister Peter Dutton, speaking at the Mater Hospital in Townsville this morning, announced the new Commonwealth Medical Internship (CMI) initiative. The program provides $40 million over the next four years to fund internships in regional areas for international full-fee-paying medical graduates who have completed their medical studies in Australia.
Catholic hospitals in Queensland will oversee the training of 18 interns – 10 at Mater Townsville and four each at Mater Mackay and Bundaberg – in the current year. The hospitals are excited to have been confirmed as approved internship sites.
Catholic Health Australia chief executive officer Martin Laverty said he was pleased to learn that Catholic hospitals will play an important role in helping train even more of tomorrow's doctors.
The use of Catholic private hospitals for internships continues the tradition over many decades of Catholic public hospitals helping train Australia's newest medical practitioners.
"The hospitals in our network – both public and private – are consistently rated among the country's best, so they have much to offer when preparing medical graduates to be the providers of excellent health care for the people of Australia," Mr Laverty said.
"For too long, the training of health workers has fallen prey to Australia's health and education silos and to artificial barriers between the public and private health system.
"We were therefore very pleased to see Minister Dutton recognising the contribution that the Catholic health sector can play by providing Commonwealth funding for internships in some of our excellent hospitals and to choose to make this important announcement at Mater Townsville.
"This outcome, which we have long hoped for, demonstrates once again that non-government hospitals are ready and able to step up to the plate to ensure the health system operates as well as possible," he said. "We congratulate those involved and we wish the hospitals and interns every success."
Mr Laverty said while the CMI program is a very important step in the right direction, there remains a need for ongoing dialogue between governments – state, territory and Commonwealth – and the medical profession and medical schools.
"We support the efforts of this Government and the last to try to address the issue of rapidly growing number of medical graduates, but we call on the key stakeholders to continue the hard work of ensuring that people who have graduated from our medical schools are able to train here and help the country with the impending health workforce shortage," he concluded.