RTO Network Chair Report

How did we go from “seamless transition” to disruption?

GP17 seems so long ago. In his annual address the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, was met with acclamation when he announced the return of general practice training to the profession. For too long both our general practice colleges have been the odd ones out when it came to the Australian Medical Council standards for specialist training. We were assured that 2019-2021 were transition years and that the RACGP and ACRRM would take over their training programs from 2022. That everyone would be supported to ensure that registrars, supervisors, practices and patients would not be affected. That the transition would be seamless.

It is now 2020. There have been delays. We are all dealing with a once in a century international health emergency. Rumours abound that the transition is now on hold. That options are being canvassed and decisions are about to be made very quickly. I don’t get it. General practice is under huge threat. Our country needs roughly 40% of our medical graduates to become GPs. At the moment that number is under 20%. The whole of the profession is behind College-led training.

It has brought the Colleges much closer and they appear unified in their confidence in their ability to lead training programs that meets not only the needs of their registrars, but the needs of their patients. We have a new national Rural Generalist Training Program. Disrupting that transition will place registrars, supervisors and educators under significant stress. In that event, how are we to convince the next generation to undertake general practice training. Not only will be have an uncertain training program, but the ongoing poor funding of general practice itself.

Dr Ian Kamerman is a GP supervisor, a current Chair of GP Synergy and Chair of the RTO Chair’s Group. He is a former Chair of GPSA.