Tassie trainees get single employer model

4 minute read

The new employment contract has also landed, giving registrars time off for education and more time for fatigue management.

With the transition to college-led training, an updated minimum training terms agreement and a new employment option for Tasmanian registrars, 2023 is shaping up to be a big year in the GP trainee space.

The most recent development, which is that registrars in Tasmania will soon be able to train under a single employer model, came in a joint announcement today from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Health Minister Mark Butler and Premier Jeremy Rockliff.

The trial will replicate the successful Murrumbidgee single-employer model, and is expected to be up and running by July.

It will give registrars the option to be an employee of the Tasmanian health system for the duration of their training, meaning that they can accrue leave and other employee benefits even as they move between placements.

There will be space for up to 20 GP and rural generalist registrars to complete their training under the model.

It is just the first of 10 trials that the new government committed to funding in the October budget last year.

Mr Rockliff described the program, which will receive $8 million in federal funding this year, as a significant win for the island state.

“It will allow us to recruit more doctors and strengthen our rural communities,” he said.

“Our government has long been advocating to trial a single employer model for GP registrars, including rural generalists, to make rural practice more attractive for doctors and we now look forward to making it happen.”

Both GP colleges have welcomed the announcement.

“We know that rural and remote communities in Tasmania, and throughout Australia, are calling for more specialist rural doctors to support the healthcare needs of their patients,” ACRRM president Dr Dan Halliday said.

“This model improves the attractiveness of RG and GP training, strengthens the RG and GP workforce across Tasmania, and addresses the availability of high-quality healthcare in communities where it is most needed.”

Dr Halliday also welcomed an announcement that the Tasmanian government intends to double the number of training places in the rural generalist program.

The small state currently has 99 GP vacancies and has historically struggled to attract a sustainable GP workforce.

RACGP president Dr Nicole Higgins said she hoped that the reliability promised by a single employer model would be particularly useful in attracting registrars to rural and regional areas of the state.

The college’s Tasmania chair, Dr Tim Jackson, believes that this could represent the beginning of a new era of federal-state cooperation.

“The immediate result of this is we’re going to see more GPs in training out the country, which will be good,” he said.

“Long term, I’m hoping this is the beginning of increasing the pipeline of the workforce with GPs.”

The Tasmania trial announcement comes days after a revised edition of the National Terms and Conditions for Employment of Registrars dropped and less than a week out from the transition to college-led training, which is set for Wednesday February 1.

The new training agreement, which is re-negotiated by General Practice Registrars Australia and General Practice Supervisors Australia every two years, contains several wins for registrars.

Beginning this financial year, training practices must pay third-year registrars for their time if they attend a mandatory workshop during rostered hours and grant part-time registrars educational release in parity with full-time trainees.

Over the 2023/24 financial year, there will be a 3% increase to the minimum base rate paid to registrars and an increase to a scheduled one hour of administration time per working day.

In the following year, practices are expected to make a further 1% increase to the minimum base rate for registrars.

GPRA and GPSA have also committed to collaborating on a fatigue management policy, employment contract templates and a shared benchmarking process to inform future contract reviews.

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