The Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) is pleased to see the Australian Labor Party's acknowledgement of General Practice as the frontline of the Australian healthcare system with its proposed $220 million GP Super Clinics plan.
Labor's policy aims to bolster primary care facilities in areas of workforce need and encourage young doctors into the field of general practice, and this is certainly a positive step forward. Labor acknowledges high quality teaching opportunities as a key attraction for prospective GP trainees and junior doctors, and offers a capital grants program to build capacity into new and existing practices.
But it has not specifically quarantined funding for educational infrastructure.
AMSA National President Mr. Rob Mitchell today said, "it is commendable that Labor recognises that the recruitment, and retention, of young GPs is key to a strong primary care system. It is particularly encouraging that Super Clinics would be eligible for funding grants to build extra consulting rooms for training doctors and GP registrars.
"AMSA believes, however, that explicit funding for training infrastructure is essential if we are to offer the next generation of doctors an appealing experience in General Practice. AMSA also believes a broader commitment with roll-out in metropolitan, regional and rural areas offers the best chance of ameliorating healthcare service disparities and ensuring high-quality patient care into the future.
"AMSA applauds Labor's acknowledgement of the changing nature of the medical workforce and the desire of junior doctors for increased flexibility and work-life balance, but more can probably be done to encourage junior doctors into the primary care sector.
"Solid educational and financial incentives are necessary to recruit more junior doctors into general practice. Labor realises however that early positive educational experiences are of fundamental importance for junior doctors and medical students considering a career in General Practice - and this is commendable.
"But this GP Super Clinics Plan does not include sufficient incentive for practitioners to set up the facilities and resources critical to high-quality teaching.
"This Plan emphasises the importance of preventive medicine and a multidisciplinary approach to care; this focus is welcome. But there is room to further prioritise and facilitate for training and education. Exposure to high-quality teaching is of paramount importance in a junior doctor's decision to pursue a career in General Practice, and provisions must be made to this end."