A $17 million investment from the Nationals in Government will transform the way country-raised medical students are trained and retained in the Riverina.

A new Rural Medical School Program will be developed in Wagga Wagga with the University of New South Wales, as part of a $74 million Australian Government investment in the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network.

A purpose-built Biomedical Sciences Centre will be constructed in Wagga Wagga and digital links will also be established between the new building, the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, other rural clinical school campuses and UNSW’s Kensington campus.

Deputy Prime Minister and Riverina MP Michael McCormack said the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network represented a great outcome for regional Australians, with work to begin as soon as possible.

“The Nationals in Government are delivering better access to medical practitioners for people living in our rural areas, through our $74 million investment the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network,” Mr McCormack said. “This program will allow students in Wagga and across the Riverina to train within their local area.”

The prime goal of the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network is to attract and retain doctors in the bush, to generate a more sustainable and locally-focused health system. Once all medical schools are operating, about 140 students will begin their medical studies across the Murray-Darling region each year.

“The current model of medical training, which predominantly happens in the cities, will be replaced by a more sustainable system where the majority of training will be in the regions with rotations to metropolitan areas for specialist experience kept to a minimum,” Mr McCormack said.

“Hundreds of regional communities face similar challenges across Australia but they’ll benefit long into the future because of the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network.”

The Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network is part of the Government’s $550 million 2018-19 Budget investment in the Stronger Rural Health Strategy to improve access to health services for people living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. Over the next 10 years, the Stronger Rural Health Strategy will deliver around 3000 additional specialist GPs for rural areas, more than 3000 additional nurses in rural general practices and hundreds of additional allied health professionals.