General Practice Leaders call for government to invest in training

By Petrina Smith
Friday, 21 February, 2014

Access to affordable and timely healthcare in both rural and urban settings will be at risk if the Government fails to invest in general practice training, according to Australia’s general practice leaders.

At the United General Practice Australia (UGPA) meeting held in Melbourne yesterday, GP leaders agreed that greater support of the general practice profession will lead to improved health system efficiency.

The most recent Medical Workforce 2012 report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) showed a decline in the supply of GPs, despite recent increases to GP vocational training, whereas other specialty areas demonstrated overall growth and for the first time outnumbered the total figure of GPs in Australia.

UGPA is calling on Government to show a commitment to general practice in the upcoming Federal budget by investing in the expansion of programs that provide International Medical Graduates (IMGs) with adequate supervision and support by increasing community based general practice placements and vocational training numbers to a minimum of 1700 per annum by 2017.

Australians should feel confident in accessing primary healthcare services – regardless of location and timing – that an appropriately trained doctor will meet their healthcare needs. This must be backed by an increase in training places to ensure appropriate supervision provided at the vocational training level is delivered if specialty recognition has not been met.

General practice is the most efficient and cost effective way to deliver quality patient care and successfully manage the rising burden of chronic and complex disease; treating the issue before secondary and tertiary care services is required.

UGPA acknowledges the Government’s recent investment in rural infrastructure grants and urges the Government to direct the grants to general practices that can demonstrate the greatest community impact to ensure the optimal outcomes of this program are achieved.

Members of UGPA agreed that increasing the number of general practice training places is a positive initiative, provided clinical supervision capacity issues and appropriate infrastructure to facilitate high quality training were adequately addressed.

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