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Good news on intern places

15 Aug 2013

The AMA welcomes the Government's recently announced $8 million package to fund 60 intern places next year in regional and rural hospitals.

The broad announcement was made last weekend but the AMA has been requesting further detail about the package, which arrived today.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said the one-off package by the Commonwealth provides certainty for some graduates but all governments have more to do to ensure that the long-term medical training pipeline is guaranteed.

“The AMA has warned for some time that some graduates from Australian medical schools could miss out on an intern place in 2014 because of growing medical graduate numbers,” Dr Hambleton said.

“The new places announced by Minister Plibersek are very welcome as another step in reaching the medical training targets that are necessary to meet future community health care needs.

“All State and Territory Governments must work cooperatively with the Commonwealth so that the expected 3500 students graduating from medical schools across the country this year are able to access essential intern training in 2014.

“We are yet to see a comprehensive long-term policy on medical workforce training from either party during this election campaign.

“The Commonwealth has invested heavily in the expansion of medical school places, with more than 3800 graduates expected each year by 2016, but we now need a firm plan to meet demand beyond that period.

“All the major parties must commit to a plan to address the shortfall in prevocational and specialist training places projected by Health Workforce Australia (HWA).”

In its Key Health Issues for the 2013 Federal Election document, the AMA calls for finalisation by HWA of a five-year medical workforce training plan, following which the Council of Australian Governments must:

  • reach agreement on the number of quality intern, prevocational and specialist medical training places needed, based on the analysis provided by HWA;
  • reach agreement on the respective financial contribution of each government;
  • agree on robust performance benchmarks to measure achievement against HW2025 targets and COAG commitments, with regular reporting by HWA on progress against these targets; and
  • commit to the development, in consultation with the profession, of performance benchmarks to ensure that the quality of medical training is sustained.

The AMA also notes that the Federal Government generally has responsibility for the funding of medical training places in general practice and in non-traditional settings such as the private sector.

The AMA recommends that the next Government must:

  • increase the Practice Incentive Payment for teaching medical students to $200 per teaching session so that it better reflects the costs to general practice of teaching medical students;
  • commit to the ongoing funding of at least one hundred intern places per annum in expanded settings including private hospitals;
  • increase the number of places in the Prevocational GP Placements Program to 1500 places per annum by 2016 and to 1700 places per annum by 2019, supporting more junior doctors to have a quality general practice experience;
  • increase the GP training program intake to 1500 places a year by 2016 and to 1700 places a year by 2019; and
  • further expand the Specialist Training Program so that it provides 1500 places per annum by 2016 and 1700 places per annum by 2019, as it is currently oversubscribed.

AMA Key Health Issues for the 2013 Federal Election is available on the AMA website at https://ama.com.au/keyhealthissues


15 August 2013

CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
                           Kirsty Waterford                  02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 15 Aug 2013