The AMA is urging the recently established Medical Board of Australia to ensure that the new national registration arrangements for doctors do not discriminate against 11,000 vocationally registered general practitioners.
The Board is currently finalising the criteria that will determine which GPs will be included on its specialist register.
The AMA has welcomed the decision by the Board to formally recognise GPs as specialists. However, there is concern about reports in the medical press of a recommendation that only Fellows of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and some Fellows of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) will be recognised as 'specialist general practitioners'.
AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that such a decision would leave thousands of highly qualified GPs shunned and professionally out in the cold.
"The AMA has made a submission to the Board suggesting a common sense approach to this issue," Dr Pesce said.
"The Board must formally recognise the high quality patient care that is being provided by the hard working vocationally registered GPs across the country who do not hold the Fellowship qualifications. For historical reasons, these doctors have not been required to hold a Fellowship.
"They have 18 years or more experience in general practice and have clearly demonstrated the skills to be considered medical specialists.
"Any move to exclude these GPs from the specialist register would be inequitable and would create two classes of general practitioner.
"It would potentially undermine the public's confidence in nearly half the nation's GPs despite the fact that they practise within established quality frameworks and have been doing so for many years.
"Vocationally registered GPs have met all obligations placed on them and they have a legitimate claim to specialty status," Dr Pesce said.
The AMA Council of General Practice met in Canberra over the weekend and resolved to support the vocationally registered GPs to be recognised as specialist GPs. The AMA recognises the value and importance of the RACGP and ACRRM Fellowships and believes these should be the benchmark for recognition of specialist GPs in the future.