AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, warned today that Australia risked
squandering the benefits of the increased numbers of medical students now in the system unless governments put in place greater training resources and infrastructure to cope with future demand.
Capolingua said quality patient care comes from quality medical training and
this training is determined by the degree to which governments seize the
initiative and fund more training places.
are finally getting enough trainee doctors into the system but this is only the
first part of the equation," Dr Capolingua said.
job won't be finished unless we have the full quota of training places created
to see these students right through to graduation as fully fledged doctors.
we don't act now, there will be a training bottleneck as early as next year and
patients will miss out on the care they need."
Capolingua pointed to the situation in the UK as an example of what could
happen here without strategic planning.
UK has lifted medical school intakes by around 70 per cent since 1997. At the
end of recruitment in 2007, over 1,300 applicants from UK medical schools had
not secured a training place in 2007.
the 2007 specialty recruitment, there were nearly 28,000 applicants for around
15,500 training places in England.
Australia, the projected number of domestic medical school graduates will hit
2945 per year in 2012 compared to 1586 in 2007, an increase of more than 85 per
Capolingua said the UK experience has important medical workforce lessons for
all Australian governments.
have an even more ambitious expansion of medical school places than the UK, so
our planning has to be much better if the community is to see the benefit of
more doctors," Dr Capolingua said.
sufficient clinical training infrastructure and resources, including the
appropriate number of teaching doctors, our future medical students will be
driving taxis instead of working as doctors because they won't be able to
complete their medical training.
is likely that clinical placements for medical students in hospitals and
general practice will reach capacity in 2009 without the investment of extra
planning and the investment must start now."
AMA suggests a number of solutions to this problem, including:
- Specific conditions in the next
round of Australian Health Care Agreements requiring States and
Territories to satisfy training benchmarks - targeted numbers of
accredited training positions, and commitments to support training in
expanded clinical settings and general practice,
- More funding to support increased
clinical placements in general practice for medical students,
- Expansion of the number of
pre-vocational GP training places and the removal of current geographic
- Increased funding support for
specialist training in expanded settings, including in the private sector,
- Additional vocational GP training
recent AMA Trainee Forum in Canberra - attended by trainees from 14 medical
colleges - passed a resolution, which included the plea:
The Forum urges medical
schools, medical colleges, governments and other stakeholders to focus their
attention and resources on ensuring that there are sufficient high quality
training positions available for students and graduates.
Dr Capolingua said the AMA hopes that the pending medical training crisis is high on the agenda for the Medical Training Review Panel when it meets tomorrow in Melbourne.