In today's COVID-affected world, I suspect most Tasmanians would be very surprised to learn that the federal government is currently rushing to implement a new system for training GPs which risks upending GP training and retention at the worst possible time.
This radical nationwide overhaul of GP training will introduce a new training system which lacks adequate detail, and which hasn't been properly consulted.
Worse, this new system has a completely unrealistic implementation timetable and is creating confusion in GP training at a time when our health system needs certainty.
General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT) in the only accredited provider of GP training in Tasmania.
Each year, GPTT places and trains up to 38 GP registrars in Tasmania, from a federal government investment of $6 million.
As each training placement takes three years, this means that at any one time GPTT is working with around 120 GPs undertaking their training across the state, or approximately 20 per cent of the current Tasmanian GP workforce.
Crucially, 75 per cent of the GPs we train choose to live and work in Tasmania following successful completion of their training, creating a stronger Tasmanian health system - especially in our rural communities.
This year, 34 general practitioner registrars began training with GPTT in medical practices around the state.
This recent intake is spread across locations including Scottsdale, George Town, Longford, Latrobe, Sorell and New Norfolk.
As we all know, our hospital and health system is under strain even without the looming threat of a COVID outbreak.
The role of GPs in our communities has always been vital, but never more so than now when we are battling the COVID pandemic and our GPs are helping with the vaccine roll-out.
The federal government's proposed changes lack detail; haven't been properly consulted with key stakeholders and the broader community; and have an unrealistic implementation timetable.
Building a whole new GP training system from scratch when you have a system that is currently working well simply makes no sense. Particularly if it happens at the same time you are battling the biggest global pandemic in a century.
For these reasons, GPTT is calling on the federal government to defer the proposed changes for a further 24 months to allow for proper consultation, detailed preparation work and the worst of the pandemic to pass.
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