Registrar's Wishlist Urges Government to Commit to Building General Practice

By Petrina Smith
Thursday, 15 August, 2013

General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) is calling on all parties to commit to building general practice with a list of reccomendations and calls for action in five key areas.
1. The Australian General Practice Training Program should expand from 1200 to 1800 places. By expanding the training program and increasing the number of places available, over 50 per cnet of medical graduates will be able to train towards a primary care focus.
Chair of GPRA, Dr Edward Vergara said: “With over 600 eligible applicants missing out on a GP training spot in 2014, this expansion needs to happen now. “There is already some capacity in the system to take on additional trainees and careful planning will ensure that this can be built upon and the increase can be managed whilst ensuring quality, capacity and  efficiency is maintained,” he continued.
2. Teaching and supervision capacity must be expanded and appropriately resourced.
Highlighting the importance of a skilled workforce Dr Vergara explained, “Careful investment in infrastructure and strengthening the business case for teaching and training the next generation of doctors in community based settings will deliver an appropriately skilled workforce that will meet the needs of an ageing population and chronic care management. “Creating sustainable remuneration and career progression models for our medical educator and supervisor workforce remains an area that requires targeted attention.”
3. Continue with support and encouragement for rural doctors
GPRA commended recent movements to form a targeted pathway that will support and develop rural doctor growth.
“Registrars are keen to ensure that this pathway builds on existing structures and provides equitable access for future cohorts whilst encouraging and supporting demonstrated rural commitment.”
“Embracing well-planned rural community based internships in the future will further strengthen the capacity for a home-grown rural medical workforce,” Dr Vergara advised.
4. General practice to become the medical home for patients and strengthened by      appropriate investment in infrastructure and ehealth. 
The investment should also include targeted support for team based, holistic and patient centric care lead by general practitioners.
“The scope of practice for future GPs should not only be maintained but expanded to ensure cost effective access to primary care into the future. "This should include, strengthening mental health, aged care, palliative care and building procedural skills for all GPs,” Dr Vergara recommended.
5.  The proposed commonwealth $2,000 cap on self-education must be scrapped.
“GP registrars spend over $15,000 on average during their training on self-education expenses and this cap will create significant financial pressures specially disadvantaging part time and rural registrars. Deferring this tax to 2015 is not a solution and Registrars want a commitment that this      will be removed completely.  “There is no evidence of rort in the system by registrars and more targeted measures would be better suited to ensure that there are clear rules on what is eligible for tax deduction rather than a mandatory cap,” Dr Vergara emphasised.
GPRA calls upon both parties to address these key issues faced by future GP registrars and the wider health sector.
Dr Edward Vergara concluded, “ The time is ripe for government to have a better look at General Practice. A focus on building a skilled GP workforce and targeted improvements to the sector will ensure cost-effective and quality health care in the future.”

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