Tasmanian general practitioners say the federal government's proposed change to move GP training to a collage-based system should be delayed, and called for greater emphasis to be placed on recruiting and retaining regional GPs.
The Commonwealth government has proposed the training of general practitioners be moved from state-based organisations to a college-based system by 2023.
Launceston Health Hub director Dr Jerome Muir Wilson said the proposal would see the Royal Australian College of GPs and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine assume the responsibility of training GP for the state.
He said while the state's regional training organisation - General Practice Training Tasmania - had done a good job training GPs, it was understandable the colleges would want to assume the role, but felt now was not the best time to implement the change.
"It's fine to go back to the colleges in time, every other speciality trains their own people, it's just the timing of it that worries me a little bit," he said.
"A better focus would be putting money into training more GPs locally than it would be into changing the way that they're trained.
"The focus should be on having more GPs trained in the state and once we've got that right and the pandemic is out of the way then we can look at transitioning the training in a couple of years."
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer said she understood the Department of Health would consult with the primary health sector regarding the transition process which would allow for input into how the transition process would proceed.
Summerdale Medical GP, Dr Don Rose, said the changes to who trained GPs was inconsequential and did not expect a change in training providers would produce more GPs for Tasmania as it did not address the systemic issues the primary healthcare sector was facing.
He said the major barrier to new doctors entering the profession was the reduction in funding for primary health care and an inflexible medicare system.
"The problem is general practice is the least well-supported area in health," he said.
The money has been quietly drained out of Medicare by the way Medicare funding has been structured, and it's just getting harder and harder to make it financially viable."
He said the way the government had structured Medicare and funded primary health care shows the sector had been increasingly neglected.
Dr Muir Wilson said recruiting GPs had become so difficult the practice has recruited its first international GP from the United Kingdom.
"Previously we were able to train enough registrar's locally and bring them for interstate, but the demand for health services is just so great at the moment that we explored the UK directly," he said.
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