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MRS CARNELL: In the May Federal budget, a cut in the number of medical students from 1,200 to 1,000 per annum was mooted. Universities with medical schools were to be asked to effect these reductions, and this appeared to have the potential to severely impact upon the viability of the Canberra Clinical School. That was certainly the view of Sydney University, as they believed that it was the larger medical schools that were likely to bear the brunt. At the AHMC meeting in Alice Springs last week, a decision was made to refer the question of medical manpower requirements to the work force committee, AMWAC, which reports to the AHMC. A subcommittee will look into all aspects of medical student intake. The chair of this subcommittee is now Professor J.A. Young, dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Sydney - and a very good appointment too.
Within 12 months a subcommittee will prepare a rational and considered case for AMWAC, to be presented to the AHMC meeting in 1996. The University of Sydney, as signatory to the memorandum of understanding with the ACT Government which ratified the establishment of the Canberra Clinical School, has reaffirmed its ongoing support for the Clinical School. It has stated that, if reductions in medical student numbers are agreed to at some stage, termination of the school as a strategy is not an option. I think that is all good news for the ACT. I was very pleased that Mr Connolly supported this position last week when it looked for a little while that the Canberra Clinical School really was in jeopardy.
MR HIRD: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I am delighted to hear those words from the Minister, but in the former Labor Government's forward estimates was any money set aside or proposed for the establishment and the running of this Clinical School?
MRS CARNELL: Unfortunately, the forward estimates do not have any costings or any money set aside for the Clinical School, which of course puts just another pressure on the coming ACT budget. In fact, the real problem for Health in the next budget is that we need to make some substantial reductions in Health, as we do in a number of other areas of the ACT budget, to attempt to bring our budget in on track, particularly taking into account that the Federal Government will reduce funding to the ACT by $30m in the next financial year. Unfortunately, Health is in a position of having to find at least $1.5m for the Clinical School that was not budgeted for, as well as $8.6m for unbudgeted increases in nurses salaries, as well as $3m in unbudgeted Comcare payments - and the list goes on. It puts another stress on the coming budget, but it in no way detracts from our commitment to the Clinical School. We will have to find the money. It just means that Health is going to have to become so much more efficient.