Tassie Labor heeds RACGP’s calls to fund IMGs

2 minute read

The party has committed to the $880k-a-year allocation to fund GP training for 20 IMGs, as well as to $2m for emergency care training.

Tasmania’s Labor party has heeded the RACGP’s calls to fund overseas doctors to help the state hold its own against its neighbours.

Earlier this week, the RACGP called on all Tasmanian parties to commit to allocating $880,000 a year to fund a two-year training program for 20 international medical graduates.

The hope is that the investment will help make the state a “destination of choice” for IMGs looking to become specialist GPs, amid major shortages and poor retention of GPs across the state.

The state Labor party has since committed to the investment, as well as to allocating $2 million to allow 50 GPs to complete emergency care training, and promising to legislate to allow GPs to co-prescribe attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medication.

RACGP Tasmania chair Dr Toby Gardner said funding the Fellowship Support Program was “an excellent investment and a great commitment by Tasmanian Labor”.

“When a practice can’t find a general practitioner to take over when a GP retires, it simply has to close,” he said.

“Many of my GP colleagues are thinking about retirement – around one in every three GPs is planning to retire in the next five years, according to our 2023 Health of the Nation report.”

According to Dr Gardner, many practices are facing closure due to workforce shortages.

“Funding the Fellowship Support Program gives [retiring] GPs more opportunities to find a successor and retire, sure that their community will be well-served.”

 Dr Gardner said training registrars locally was invaluable.

“Registrars and other health professionals build strong bonds to the communities they train in – doctors who train in rural regions are more likely to choose to live in those areas long-term,” he said.

“In a rural town, that can mean the difference between a strong community and one that struggles to assure older residents and young families that they’ll have a local GP.”

Labelling the move “cost-effective”, Dr Gardner said that judging by other jurisdictions the investment should bear fruit.

“This is a good move, and cost-effective at only $880,000 per year to train 20 new GPs.

“We have seen a big response to Victoria’s incentive of up to $40,000 for doctors to train as GPs, with a big increase in the number of GPs training there after that grant was announced.

“We know this kind of incentive works.”

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