Situation critical: GPs unite to cope with trainee influx
GP supervisors have held crisis talks with key general practice groups, amid fears the system will struggle to cope with the imminent tide of junior doctors.
The National General Practice Supervisors’ Association (NGPSA) recently called a roundtable meeting with representatives from the RACGP, ACRRM, General Practice Registrars Australia, General Practice Education & Training (GPET) and the Association of Chief Executives of regional training providers to discuss concerns.
NGPSA chair Dr Barbara Dignam said the unprecedented step had been taken to create a forum for discussion around building capacity and improving training and support for supervisors.
“We’re obviously all concerned about the same issues… having the rooms, having the space, having quality training for registrars and training the trainers to train.
“All the issues are now on the table. I’m really positive that this is going to result in having an opportunity to discuss all the issues that are relevant to GPs.”
Earlier this year as part of its health reforms, the Rudd Government announced a $339 million funding boost to raise the number of annual GP registrar training places from the current 812 to 1200 by 2014. Next year, the number will jump to 900.
Placements on the Pre-vocational General Practice Placements Program are set to more than double, from 380 in 2010 to 910 in 2011.
ACRRM representative Dr Tom Doolan, honorary director of education, warned the resources were currently “not there” to handle the influx.
“If they’re all going to get a good quality experience and be safe there’s huge logistics involved,” he said.
“The money that’s going to Health Workforce Australia… in the next 12 months at least, is targeted primarily at universities and not at pre-vocational and vocational training. While that may assist with physical infrastructure that may spin off… it doesn’t address the implications for training up new supervisors.” The meeting came just days before the application deadline for the 2011 intake of the Australian General Practice Training program. Last year GPET received 1010 applications for the program and a spokesperson said she was confident the program would again be oversubscribed.
RACGP representative Dr Morton Rawlin hailed the meeting as a successful first step, which he hoped would lead to a concrete plan of action. He was cautiously optimistic that the system would be ready by January but acknowledged that “it will be a challenge”. “For next year at least I suspect we will be adequate but subsequent years will require more work.”
Dr Dignam warned there would be “no quick or easy solutions”, and encouraged current and aspiring supervisors to provide input to their supervisor liaison officers ahead of the annual GPET meeting in September.