The top concerns about the changes to the AGPT program

The Minister for Health and Sport, Greg Hunt recently announced that the Colleges will take full responsibility for the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program from 2022, with transition beginning in 2019. To ensure seamless training delivery throughout the transition period, RTOs will continue to deliver the AGPT program.

This reform has the potential to bring many benefits to Australia’s future GPs, provided there is sector-wide consultation and appropriate supports to minimise the impact on registrar training.

GPRA will seek to ensure GP Registrars are engaged in the development and implementation of GP training arrangements, to protect the quality of training and to guarantee the ongoing quality and relevance of training.

This announcement highlights the fact that now, more than ever, GP Registrars need GPRA as an independent voice to protect their interests and advocate for quality, relevant training. We are listening closely to your concerns. We will also be seeking to discuss your concerns with the Federal Minister for Health and the Colleges in the near future.

Here are the top concerns raised with us…

1. What does this change mean for registrars?

2. Who will support registrars when the colleges run the training program, accreditation and the examinations? GP Registrars train in a unique way and do not have the ‘protection’ provided by the systems and administration of the larger hospitals.

3. What protections will be in place to ensure registrars are not disadvantaged in the transition phase? How will the quality of training be maintained during the transition and early years of this process? Will we see a decrease in quality of training, owing to everyone needing to adapt to a different system?

4. What does this mean for RTOs beyond 2022? There may be challenges around colleges being able to oversee the training for each registrar and each practice in each local healthcare system. Every RTO is different and GP training is not a ‘one size fits all’ model of training across Australia. Will the Colleges retain the RTOs to do the work?

5. How will the Colleges, which are based in major cities (i.e. Melbourne and Brisbane), be able to do the ‘on the ground work’ with the rural practices and registrars placed in these settings?

6. Are funding cuts driving these changes? Will this lead to an increase in training costs to registrars? If this is the case, this will make general practice less attractive to JMOs and, as a result, GP training will potentially lose good candidates.

7. Will these changes result in further separation of training between the two Colleges and, generally, further division of the profession overall?

8. As there has been no consultation with the registrars so far, can we be guaranteed that the concerns of GP registrars will be heard and appropriately addressed throughout the transition and under the future College management of the GP training programs?

Minster Hunt’s announcement at GP17 has set a clear direction for the future of GP training but there is much work to be done in addressing the detail of the changes and transition arrangements.

GPRA will be making sure that the Minister understands that GP Registrars must be consulted throughout this process!