New GPRA survey shows worrying impacts of COVID-19 on GP training
General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) President Dr Sama Balasubramanian has today highlighted findings from GPRA’s recent GP trainee survey which show the worrying impacts of COVID-19 on GP training.
“Results from our recent survey of GP trainees indicate nearly three quarters of respondents have had a decrease in their patient numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for half of these this has been a significant decrease. This is despite the high uptake of telehealth, with almost all respondents (97 per cent) now performing telehealth consultations,” said Dr Balasubramanian.
“This is having an adverse effect on the training experience for these doctors and also a severe impact on their income.”
“Additionally, 13 per cent of respondents reported a decrease in working hours and a further five per cent indicated that this is being considered by their employer; two per cent of respondents have had their employment terminated as a result of COVID-19.”
GPRA recognises that the pandemic is adversely affecting all Australians.
“We are acutely aware of the significant strain that the pandemic has placed on many GP practices, but GP trainees are particularly vulnerable,” said Dr Balasubramanian.
“Many trainees have only recently commenced their training term with their current practice so have yet to establish ongoing care relationships with patients. They often see ‘walk-ins’ and acute presentations, and these patient numbers have dropped off as people have been avoiding visits to their GP clinic. A trainee's employment, and the patients they see, contributes towards their training time, and so, if these factors are affected, they face delays in becoming a fully-qualified GP.”
“Australia is already facing an under-supply of GPs, particularly in rural and remote areas—we do not want to see the pandemic exacerbate this issue.”
“GPRA acknowledges the Government’s telehealth reforms and initiatives to normalise access to healthcare will improve the situation for GP trainees and their patients. However, there must be fair and reasonable allowances to ensure training and employment for all GP trainees is minimally disrupted by the pandemic.”
GPRA has received feedback from survey participants which suggest there are risks to GP trainee wellbeing. Many GP trainees have reported feeling fearful that their training will be significantly delayed and they may lose their jobs or be unable to secure training positions later in the year.
“Clearly the situation is very stressful for many GP trainees. Strong support for GP trainees and their training practices, from Regional Training Organisations and the GP Colleges, is critical at this time,” said Dr Balasubramanian.
About the survey
This survey collected information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on GP trainee employment, to provide an evidence-base to inform constructive responses to the problems that GP trainees face in relation to their employment and training conditions in this challenging time. Responses from 1,081 participants were analysed. Read the summary report here.
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