Dissatisfaction with employment and training is the reality for many GP trainees


11 March 2021

Dissatisfaction with employment and training is the reality for many GP trainees

New data from the GP Trainee Benchmarking Report, published this week by General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA), highlights continuing dissatisfaction with general practice training and employment with a worrying gap between what GP trainees’ rate as important in their training and employment arrangements, and what they are able to receive.

“There are significant gaps between what GP trainees’ rate as important and their satisfaction with those aspects. Just over half of respondents report not being satisfied with their salary, just under forty per cent were not satisfied with their ability to negotiate on salary, and just under half were not satisfied with their ability to negotiate on other employment terms and conditions,” said GPRA President Dr Antony Bolton.

“This is consistent with feedback and inquiries GPRA regularly receives from GP trainees. Low base-rate salary, compared to registrars in hospital-based specialty training programs, is the most common employment concern for the majority of GP trainees.”

This is also driving trainees to take on additional employment outside of training to make ends meet. The report showed that nearly one third (31.0 per cent) of respondents, who were full-time GP trainees, were doing additional work and for the majority (62.5 per cent) needing additional income was the reason. Of particular concern is that the highest proportion of respondents undertaking additional work was those in their first term of GP training.

“Many GP registrars take a significant pay cut when moving from hospital employment to the general practice training program. This is particularly acute in the first term of GP training. Adding insult to injury, GP trainees also lose other employment entitlements, such as access to paid parental leave, when they move from the hospital system. A substantial pay cut and loss of entitlements, are a significant disincentive for doctors when considering undertaking GP training,” Dr Bolton said.

“Sadly, there have been years of little change to GP trainee employment and training conditions. In 2018, GPRA did not endorse the National Terms and Conditions for Employment of Registrars (NTCER) as ‘fair and reasonable’ for GP registrars. More recently, a 2020 bipartisan national Roundtable meeting of GP trainees reached consensus that the NTCER is ‘no longer fit-for-purpose’ in its current form.”

“With such ongoing frustration from GP trainees, and with no change in recent memory, there is little wonder as to why GP trainees are dissatisfied with their remuneration and employment terms and conditions, and with their ability to negotiate over these aspects.”

“This dissatisfaction highlights the need for all parties to continue to come together to work to improve the employment arrangement for GP trainees. GPRA is determined to continue to lead meaningful discussions and work toward positive change for GP trainees.”

“More equitable training and employment conditions, and a tangible improvement to GP trainee satisfaction, will go a long way in attracting and retaining talented doctors to GP training. This is essential to ensure the future sustainability of the profession so we can continue to meet the needs of our patients and communities,” Dr Bolton said.

About the report

The data from the GP Trainee Benchmarking Report was collected in a 2019 survey with results tabled in 2020 and published in 2021. The GPRA Benchmarking survey is run every two years. GP trainees confidentially provide information about their employment terms and conditions and training experiences. Read the full report here.



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The NTCER covers the terms and conditions of GP Registrars' employment.