Safeguard Tassie GP excellence

First published in The Mercury Newspaper, Monday 28 June, 2021

Our general practitioner training ensures we keep and retain doctors. Let’s keep it that way

There has been some reporting in recent weeks about how well Tasmania performs when it comes to attracting general practitioners to the state.

We know that there have always been and always will be challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining GPs, but the system we have in place is delivering strong results and is a solid platform from which to work. Once a doctor completes their undergraduate medical degree, they can pursue speciality training in general practice — which will up to four years be of supervised, on the-job training.

We have seen a consistent and solid trend of doctors continually choosing Tasmania as their preferred location to undertake this training. The program offered by General Practice Training Tasmania has built a reputation as one of the best in the country and the data is testimony to Tasmania continuing to be a destination of choice for the next generation of general practitioners.

The figures collected by General Practice Training Tasmania show that in recent years between 28 and 34 GPs have begun their intensive four year training program in Tasmania.

The General Practice Training Tasmania program has one of the highest success rates in the country, with many outstanding GPs becoming fellowed GPs and able to practise medicine in Tasmania each year.

Our figures show that more than half of GPs who elect to do their final training in Tasmania are from interstate or overseas.

The figures are proof that Tasmania is one of the best places in the country to train as a GP and that our state is drawing a significant number of GPs to the state.

Not only that, when GPs train in Tasmania they want to stay in Tasmania.

About 75 per cent of all the GPs that we train stay in Tasmania and practise medicine for the long-term.

This is a fantastic outcome for all of the hardworking GPs around the state that also supervise the next generation of doctors and shows that we currently have a really strong training system in place.

Recruitment of GPs can have its challenges, but Tasmania is well and truly a standout performer when it comes to recruitment of GP registrars and retention post fellowship.

We need to make sure that continues well into the future.

The federal government has announced it wants to reform the way GPs are trained in Australia.

We look forward to seeing more details about the federal government’s reform plans and how it will work in Tasmania in particular.

We strongly encourage the federal government to look closely at the existing system.

At the very least, the federal government should guarantee that any reform will not leave Tasmania worse off and that there will be incentives in any new approach for GPs to continue to train in regional areas of Tasmania and Australia more broadly.

It’s also very important that we can continue to provide certainty to GPs wishing to complete their training in Tasmania.

We can make the system better and we should always aim to train more GPs in Tasmania.

Judy Dew is Chief Executive Officer of General Practice Training Tasmania.