Federal Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie announces changes to rural general practitioner graduate placements

MEDICAL CHANGES: Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam, Federal Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine past president Lucie Walters, and Royal Australia College of General Practitioners president Bastian Seidel.
 MEDICAL CHANGES: Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam, Federal Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine past president Lucie Walters, and Royal Australia College of General Practitioners president Bastian Seidel.

Tasmania’s rural communities are set to benefit from federal changes to the way medical graduates are assigned to their post-graduate general practitioner placements. 

Federal Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie was in Hobart on Monday to announce a $220 million per year investment into the selection of medical graduates for the Australian General Practice Training program

The government funds 1500 entries into the GP program each year, and as of 2018, the decision of which students receive these spots will be handed over to two specialist General Practice Colleges.

This will allow the colleges to handpick which graduates would be best suited to each role, and who will thrive in Tasmania’s remote and regional communities. 

Through the program, medical graduates complete three to four years of full-time training across Australia, with about half of this happening in regional and rural areas. 

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president and Huonville general practitioner Bastian Seidel said the move would ​better reflect the needs of the communities. 

“What we want to avoid is doctors spending six months in Tasmania and then moving on, that’s not what’s going to make a difference to communities,” Dr Seidel said.

“When you’re a country doctor, you’re not just looking after the person, but their whole extended families as well.” 

Dr Gillespie said the cost of each college’s selection process would be met through the introduction of an application fee set by each college.

“The transfer of this function to the GP colleges will bring them into line with other Australian specialist medical colleges,” Dr Gillespie said. 

“It will improve the completion and the end product because you need a special doctor to become a general practitioner because of the multifaceted skills.”

It was less than a month ago that Sussan Ley resigned from her role as federal Health Minister, and Dr Seidel said had been assured that Tasmania’s unique health issues were still on the agenda. 

“Minister Gillespie is certainly aware of the special circumstances we are seeing here in the state,” Dr Seidel said.