AMA switches sides after Libs tout $400m promise to GP registrars

3 minute read

After gifting the federal health budget a ‘B-minus’, the AMA has welcomed Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s promise to address GP registrar pay disparity.

The AMA has seemingly switched teams after a “disappointing” federal health budget, as the Liberals have promised $400 million to GP registrars.

After giving the 2024-25 federal budget, announced last week, a “B-minus” on the health front, the association has welcomed the Liberal leader Peter Dutton’s $400 million promise made in his budget-in-reply speech.

“Concerningly, Australia is facing a looming shortage of GPs – some 11,000 by 2031,” Mr Dutton said last week.

 “We need more GPs – especially in our suburbs and regional areas.

“Junior doctors who enter general practice earn about three-quarters of the salary of their counterparts in hospitals.

“Working with the RACGP and AMA, a Coalition government will invest $400 million to provide junior doctors who train in general practice with incentive payments, assistance with leave entitlements, and support for pre-vocational training.”

AMA president Professor Steve Robson said the association had raised the issue of GP registrar employment parity with the Liberals earlier in the month.

“We are pleased the Coalition has listened to our calls and acknowledged the many challenges our GPs are facing around the country,” said Professor Robson.

“Primary care is meant to be the backbone of our health system, but Australia is facing a shortage of more than 10,600 GPs by 2031, which is little wonder because a trainee entering general practice training today will generally take an immediate pay cut and face the prospect of inferior conditions and leave entitlements.”

The AMA president also hit out at the current federal government’s loss of momentum towards a more efficient health system.

“MyMedicare provides the government with a real platform to reform general practice and improve access and affordability for patients, but the extra funding needed to build on this initiative was missing in the budget,” Professor Robson said.

“More urgent care clinics is not a long-term strategic solution, and the government keeps looking to fund more of them without proper evaluation of their impact.

“What we need is reform that enables general practice to deliver the primary care that our patients need, not piecemeal announcements and changes that further fragment the system.”

The AMA said the Liberal’s employment parity policy would help make general practice more accessible and maintain the standard of Australia’s health system, which centres around GPs.

“Australia can only continue delivering top-class general practice care and excellent patient outcomes if we have enough GPs,” Professor Robson said.

“To do this, we must make the profession more appealing to junior doctors, otherwise primary care will suffer further at the detriment of Australian patients.”

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