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19 Apr 2016

The AMA was recently asked by the Health Department to comment on a confidential draft of proposed guidelines for the Co-Funded GP Training Program (CFGPTP) that was foreshadowed in the 2014-15 Federal Budget.

The AMA does not support the concept of co-funded GP training places, and has said this since they were first mooted.

The Commonwealth, in various Budget decisions, appears to be stepping away from many of its core funding responsibilities in health, and this idea simply reflects that approach.

GP training is already very cost effective, with supervisors and practices making significant contributions to training the next generation of GPs, with only limited financial support.

There are many concerns about how a CFGPTP might operate.

The concept has the potential to undermine the broad focus and quality of GP training, and raises potential conflicts of interest, including getting the delicate balance right between service and training.  

There is a very real risk that GP trainees will not be exposed to the breadth of practice that current GP training arrangements promote and instead will be trained in only one style of general practice. This is contrary to the philosophy of general practice training and the widely accepted policy intent to promote a well-trained GP workforce with broad generalist skills.

GP trainees are also worried that they could be left vulnerable in circumstances where they are in dispute with their employer over the training that is being provided to them.

The rumoured prospect of trainees being bonded to participating employers in return for a co-funded training place is also cause for significant concern. Again, this places trainees in a very vulnerable position in disputes, and can have a detrimental effect if their personal circumstances change.

If GP trainees are well treated and well trained, many will choose to stay voluntarily, and bonding does not need to become a new feature of the GP training landscape.

While the AMA remains opposed to the CFGPTP, if the Government decides to go ahead, it appears that the only way these risks can be mitigated is by having the placements organised and administered through the existing network of Regional Training Organisations (RTO), with Colleges responsible for the selection of candidates. This would:

  • ensure that co-funded training positions remained within the overall governance framework for general practice training;
  • support the consistent application of policy across all GP training settings;
  • utilise established educational materials; and
  • allow for experience in a variety of settings.

Trainees in difficulty would also be able to approach their RTO for support and assistance, which is particularly important given the emerging evidence of bullying and harassment in the medical profession and the acknowledged need to address this more effectively.

 


Published: 19 Apr 2016