Last week RACGP President, Dr Karen Price, called for GP’s to move away from universal bulk billing. GP training practices already take a financial hit to train the next generation of family doctors. How do we ensure that our training practices are viable?
The Medicare rebate belongs to the patient. It is the patient who is being penalised when the Government fails to keep up with inflation. To ensure that the practice can remain viable, practices may privately bill and the patient has a gap to pay. When we bulkbill, we accept the rebate as full payment on behalf of the patient. It simply does not cover the bills.
The lack of investment in Medicare, the Medicare freeze and the overall underfund in GP training impacts on our ability to provide quality general practice training.
Patients make over 120 million visits to GPs every year. There is an election in the air. Now is a good opportunity to educate our registrars, colleagues and patients on what universal bulk billing means and the impact that it has on our ability to provide quality medical care and training.
Grant opportunities have been released for workforce agencies called GPWPP (Workforce Priority and Planning). These GPWPP will decide on workforce needs and determine where registrars will be placed. It will be up to the colleges to allocate a registrar to the identified placement. As yet we do not know who these GPWPP will be. We do know that workforce areas will be aligned with PHN boundaries. GPSA is concerned that money will be taken out of the AGPT training bucket of money to fund these agencies and that workforce need will take priority over quality of training experience. The allocation of registrars under AGPT will remain at 50% for MM1 and 50% for MM2-7.
The good news for supervisors is that the Government has recognised the importance that we play in GP training. The Nationally Consistent Payments system means that for most supervisors and training practices remuneration will be increased and nobody will be worse off which is great news in a limited training budget.
GPSA has strongly advocated for our members with the Department of Health and with the colleges during negotiations in the Transition to Profession Led Training.
GPSA and GPRA have started discussions on reviewing the NTCER. We have a good working relationship and have developed a set of principles to support a collaborative negotiation. Both organisations have the best interests of the future of GP training as the focus of negotiations. Separate to the NTCER, we have been advocating for a paid parental leave scheme at GPTAC (GP Training Advisory Committee) with GPRA, RACGP, ACRRM and AMA. This has progressed and I am looking forward to some great news by mid 2022.
Our Supervisor Liaison Network met via Zoom last week. We thank Martin Rocks and Dr Susan Wearne for attending from the Department of Health and for providing an update on GP training and answering questions. We also thank the Department for continuing to fund the network. Both colleges provided an update on transition. The SLON is a valuable resource which provides feedback to GPSA and decision makers as well as supervisors on the ground.
I thank our supervisors and practice managers for their support this year. I have missed seeing you all face to face. The team and the board at GPSA have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that supervisors have a voice and are heard.
Yours in Training,
Dr Nicole Higgins