Budget confirms election promise of $12.5m additional funding for medical school

The Central Coast Medical School and Research Institute is well underway and ready for completion by 2019.
Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, joined Federal Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks, University of Newcastle Central Coast Campus Dean, Dr Brok Glenn, and Central Coast Health District CEO, Dr Andrew Montague, on Friday May 5, to hear about progress by the Medical Precinct Taskforce.
The Taskforce was established in October, 2016, in an effort to boost jobs and investment at Gosford Hospital, leveraged by a combined investment of $72.5m by Federal and New South Wales State Governments and the University of Newcastle.
Ms Wicks said that it was an incredibly exciting development, which would drive economic return to the region.
“This is a world class institution, with world class connections to some of the best universities in the world.
“It is a true game changer, it really is.
“We are talking about construction, you can already see the fence, and in a matter of just a few years, students from the Central Coast will be able to study in Gosford.
“One of the great things about this is the importance of what this does in terms of investing in our local economy.
“This university precinct will actually create around 750 new jobs alone but, on top of that, we are already looking at how universities can be drivers of growth, particularly for Gosford.
“The purpose of the taskforce and the reason the Minister is here working alongside the University of Newcastle and our local health district is to see how we can actually create and drive jobs to Gosford because of the investment that the Federal Government, the State Government and the university is making right here,” Ms Wicks said.
The precinct taskforce was a commitment by the former Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Mr Greg Hunt, which Sen Sinodinos said he was happy to have inherited.
“I have been gratified to come here today and see how much progress has been made in sharing the round table and getting people from both the public and the private sectors, from State and Federal level, and important National and International businesses all looking at how they can invest in the area to bring about this health and medical precinct,” he said.
“So I am very optimistic about this proposal getting real legs in a physical sense, in terms of the infrastructure and also the connectivity with other researching students all over the place.
“It is about collaboration that brings jobs to the area and creates jobs for locals.
“Our overriding priority as a coalition since 2013, since Lucy took the seat, has been how do we get more jobs for locals?”
The project will be delivered under an International Advisory Board, under which the University of Cambridge and New York University will partner with the University of Newcastle.
Dean of the University of Newcastle’s Central Coast Campus, Dr Brok Glenn, said the university was delighted to be working in conjunction with the local health district.
“With respect to our international partners, we at the university have been exploiting those networks, connections and expertise that sits elsewhere in the world.
“What we have done in respect to the medical school and the research institute is to concentrate on those collaborative institutions, where we have existing relationships and to draw on those strengths and on the expertise that sit inside those facilities to allow the student exchanges that come along with those kinds of relationships,” Dr Glenn said.
“The university is ready to assist with identifying and meeting the future workforce needs of the local health district, and part of that will be an increase in our student load by 400.
“The purpose of that is to work with the education managers inside the health district to identify those needs and to provide those trained staff in the years ahead,” Dr Glenn said.
CEO of Central Coast Local Health District, Dr Andrew Montague, said the project would help manage the growing population on the Coast.
“As we all know, on the Coast, the population is growing at an exponential rate, and with that unfortunately, come chronic disease and the issues that we have with the obesity epidemic and a number of other things at the moment, which means that we need a workforce that is ready to actually manage these conditions.
“Really it means that we have got people that have grown up on the Coast and can be trained and educated on the Coast, with an opportunity to be able to work in roles here locally on the Coast,” Dr Montague said.
Following Senator Sinodinos’ visit to the site, the Federal Government announced as part of its 2017 budget, a further $12.5m in funding for operational and transitional costs once the school opened.
Ms Wicks said she had been fighting for the funding to help equip a new generation of local medical students to provide the best possible integrated care to Central Coast patients.
“We have the potential to transform Gosford into the hub of a vibrant local economy built on research, innovation, health and education.
“The Coalition’s Budget investment of $12.5m will help the University of Newcastle to recruit full-time clinical staff and educators in areas such as indigenous and public health, anatomy, pharmacy, midwifery, surgery and emergency medicine,” Ms Wicks said.
Council Administrator, Mr Ian Reynolds, said it was pleasing to see promises made at the last Federal Election confirmed in this budget, and particularly welcomed the extra funding for the Medical School and Research Institute at Gosford.
“This extra funding for the Medical School will enhance the reputation of Gosford and the Central Coast as a leader in innovation in medical research and education,” Mr Reynolds said.
“It will also be a driver for the rejuvenation of Gosford as the regional capital and will have huge flow-on effects to the local economy delivering jobs and opportunities for our community, in addition to the direct benefits to health care on the Coast,” Mr Reynolds said.

Doorstop interview, May 5
Lucy Wicks, Federal Member for Robertson
Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science
Brok Glenn, University of Newcastle Central Coast
Andrew Montague, Central Coast Local Health District
Media release, May 8
Tim Sowden, office of Lucy Wicks
Media release, May 10
Central Coast Council media
Jarrod Melmeth, Journalist