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AMA urges better employment conditions for GPs

General Practice is the cornerstone of health care in Australia and a well-trained general practice workforce delivers high-quality, equitable health care to individuals and communities. Yet GP training numbers continue to fall short of recruitment targets.

The AMA has released an update to its Vision Statement for General Practice Training, which comes at a critical time, with the Commonwealth Government considering further changes to General Practice Training.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said general practitioners are trained to provide a world-leading service that is sustainable and responsive to changing community needs.

"General Practice is the most accessed form of health care in Australia, with almost 85 per cent of patients seeing a GP each year, and more than 95 per cent of patients attending the same practice," he said.

"The general practice sector not only improves the health outcomes of individuals and communities, but also creates significant savings in overall healthcare expenditure and improved use of other healthcare facilities, as well as avoiding duplication and waste of precious scarce healthcare funding."

Dr Khorshid said GPs often formed long-term relationships with their patients, and were increasingly caring for patients with multiple illnesses and complex care needs.

"It is a challenging career, but one that affords great personal rewards," he said.

The AMA's updated vision puts greater focus on the need to attract more doctors into the General Practice training program by recognising the need for employment conditions for GP trainees to match their counterparts in other specialist training programs.

Currently, GP trainees often take a significant cut in pay and conditions when they leave the hospital system, including inferior sick leave, parental leave, annual leave, and long service leave arrangements.

Dr Khorshid said the discussion about potential reform of GP training must deliver equitable employment conditions of GP Registrars, otherwise the specialty will struggle to attract sufficient doctors to meet future community need.

"The AMA Vision continues to advocate for more resources to be invested in support of GP training – registrars, supervisors, incentives and infrastructure – to maintain a sustainable GP workforce," he said.

"The AMA Vision needs to be used by the Commonwealth Government to guide any reforms to GP training and the AMA is already engaging with the Minister for Health and the Department over the direction of potential reforms.

"The AMA is passionate about building a sustainable general practice workforce, which is equipped to respond to the changing health care needs of individuals and local communities.

"A strong system of primary care led by General Practice will underpin the future sustainability of our health system and ensure that patients can access the care that they need."