30 January 2022
$75 million needed to boost GP trainee numbers and reverse decline in general practice: General Practice Registrars Australia
General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) is calling on the Federal Government to invest at least another $75 million over five years to fix a funding gap in GP registrars’ base salary or risk a further decline in the number of junior doctors choosing the general practice specialty.
Releasing GPRA’s Pre-Budget submission for the 2023 Federal Budget, the President of General Practice Registrars Australia, Dr Karyn Matterson, said the funding would bring GP registrars’ pay in line with average wage of hospital-based registrar trainees across Australia.
GPRA is Australia’s peak body representing and advocating for GPs in training. It has 20,000 members which includes medical students and prevocational doctors as well as GPs in training.
In new analysis, GPRA found that on average GP registrars take a 12 percent pay cut when they complete their in-hospital training and begin their first year as a GP registrar under the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program which is the leading general practice training pathway in Australia.
GPRA is asking that the government provide an additional $50,000 – $60,000 for each GP registrar over the three years of their training under the AGPT to provide parity with their hospital-based colleagues.
GPRA has requested a total funding boost between $75 million to $90 million from July 1 2023 to cover the cost over the next five years.
Dr Matterson said the funding boost was urgently needed to attract more doctors to the general practice specialty.
“Without this funding to top-up registrar’s base salary, the nation risks further decline in the attraction and retention of doctors in the GP speciality.”
“GPs in training deal with cost of living pressures just like everyone else.”
“Systemic underfunding by successive governments has resulted in this erosion of base salary.”
“This lack of investment in general practice, on top of our chronically underfunded Medicare system, is a major barrier for choosing the GP speciality.”
Nationally, there has been a drop in the number of junior doctors signing up to train under the AGPT. In 2015, 1534 AGPT training places were filled but by 2021 this had dropped to 1434 places.
Dr Matterson said a 2022 survey of GPRA’s members revealed that pay and conditions were their leading concern.
“Increasing the base rate levels for GP registrars who are training under the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program will immediately help retain GP registrars and improve the future attractiveness of the GP Speciality.”
“Our solution is simple and will immediately have a positive impact on the GP workforce.”
“GPRA estimates that the funding increase represents less than three dollars per Australian per year for the next five years.”
“The whole of the nation stands to benefit from an investment to attract and retain specialist GPs. It is an investment in the health of the nation to keep Australians out of hospital and keep them well.”