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GPRA supports Victorian GP registrars left short-changed by delay in Government election promise

General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA) has written to the Victorian Government to seek answers regarding a delay in a GP training financial incentive which has left Victorian GP registrars now considering leaving general practice as a career.

More than 80 Victorian GP registrars have co-signed a letter pleading for the State Government to honour its 2022 pre-election promise to invest $32 million to encourage pre-vocational doctors to enrol in GP training in their first year.

GPRA members in Victoria have issued their significant concern that the GP incentive payment scheme has not yet been implemented in 2023.

The trainee GPs enrolled in the understanding that in their first year of training they would be eligible to apply for up to $30,000 top up payments, plus access a further $10,000 to help cover the costs of their first-year exams.

However, GPRA President Dr Karyn Matterson said these registrars have now been told the scheme will be delayed by a year.

“We have asked to meet with the Minister for Health to discuss the implementation status of the State Government’s financial GP training incentive payment to enter general practice training announced as part of election promises made in November 2022,” Dr Matterson said.

“At the time, GPRA welcomed the pledge made by the Victorian Government to make steps to address this base rate systematic barrier to GP speciality training.

“However, we have heard the election promise has now been pushed back a year, which is simply not good enough.

“The future of General Practice in Australia is at risk, with a significant deficit in new trainees compared to a high community demand for GPs.

“Hundreds of GP registrars have relied on the Victorian Government’s promise, and committed to GP training this year.

“Without the promised financial support, they may be forced to leave General Practice training and redirect their careers to other areas of medicine, leaving an even greater trainee deficit.”

Victorian GP registrar Dr Emily Rodrigo said she was told by the State Government last month that they have been excluded from the financial incentive.

“We have now been told that we are one year too early, despite being promised these benefits before we commenced our training,” Dr Rodrigo said.

“Despite holding on to this lifeline as a recognition of our value, and reinforcing that general practice was the right career choice for us, the burden now remains on us without any assistance.

“This change in policy is unjust. We committed to general practice and commenced our training after this promise of financial assistance was made by the government.

“Without this grant, we are facing a significant financial burden that we do not deserve,

and many of us may find ourselves in a situation where we are unable to proceed with our exams and hence our training.”

New data from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) shows a GP shortage in Australia – for example, there are just 1.2 GPs for every 1,000 people in north-west Melbourne.

Dr Rodrigo called on the Victorian Government to honour its promise to the State’s 2023 GP training cohort.

“We know this country needs GPs and we want to provide Australians with the care they require, but if we do not have our government’s support in this endeavour, we may be required to redirect our careers to where there is more financial stability,” she said.

“Therefore, many vulnerable Victorians will remain under-served, causing worse healthcare outcomes for our community.

“The government can make a massive difference in our lives and the lives of our patients by honouring their promise.”

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