A record number of medical school graduates have this year begun their vocational training to become GPs under a $150 million Gillard Government program.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said 1,000 former students had taken up places in 2012 to work as GP registrars in hospitals and doctor surgeries in urban and rural areas across the country.
“GPs are the front line of our health system, providing professional medical care to millions of Australians every year,” said Ms Plibersek.
“To assist GPs get the training they need and to ensure local communities are served by as many doctors as possible, the Gillard Government is continuing to increase vocational training places.”
The GPs are being trained under the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program, which has been greatly expanded as part of a government commitment to boost doctor numbers.
The number of registrar places were increased to 700 in 2010, 900 in 2011 and 1,000 this year. The number of training places will increase to 1,100 in 2013 and 1,200 in 2014.
“When Tony Abbott was health minister he capped the number of GP training places at just 600 a year which lead to a critical shortage of doctors.”
“The Labor government made a commitment to double the number of training places by 2014 and we are on track to meet that commitment.”
Ms Plibersek, Federal Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, and Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird made the announcement at the Government’s Shell Cove GP Super Clinic which has had a GP Registrar since opening in June last year.
Ms Bird said the GP training program was helping the Illawarra grow its medical workforce as well as meeting local demand for GP services.
“Because the Illawarra is a rapidly growing area, it is important the Government continue to provide the community with access to high quality medical care, when and where it is needed,” Ms Bird said.
Mr Jones said “the GP Registrar who is operating from the Government’s GP Super Clinic is already highly experienced, having completed years of medical training and hospital work.
“It is great for this community that Registrars like this can provide services to the Shellharbour community while they are completing their training,” Mr Jones said.
“This is another addition to the services available at the GP Super Clinic, which already include GPs, a senior practice nurse; practice nurses; an exercise physiologist; clinical psychologist; dietician; and a speech therapist.”
Under the AGPT program, GP registrars provide services to patients under the supervision of a senior doctor. The program is the main pathway for achieving GP qualifications in Australia.
Registrars must complete three years of full time training to qualify as a GP. AGPT is overseen by General Practice Education and Training Ltd which delivers the program through 17 regional training providers across Australia.
The 2012 intake includes nine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 24 people from the Australian Defence Force.
2012 AGPT Funded Places by State and Territory:
Qld - 204
WA - 89
SA - 76
Tas - 28
NT - 26
ACT - 17
National - 1,000