It’s been a busy start to 2022 for the GPEx team, especially with the added complexity of COVID-19 restrictions, which saw staff working from home and online delivery of the training programme at the start of the year. I was encouraged by the way our team adapted during this time as we continued to support and deliver GP training across South Australia. We continue to be guided by the advice of the SA Government and SA Health in our planning of events and activities.

It is clear that our best defence against COVID-19 is vaccination, and the health and wellbeing of our staff and the community is of the utmost importance.  As such, all GPEx staff visiting practices are fully vaccinated with three doses of a TGA approved vaccine. This also includes staff assisting with mini release workshops and the like.

In February, we welcomed a new group of registrars who commenced their GP training journey with GPEx at a two-day online orientation. This cohort are commencing at a pivotal time in GP training with the transition to college-led training, federal and state elections, and the impacts of COVID-19 on the community and the way we live, work and learn. I am very proud of the way in which we support registrars, practices and supervisors as we navigate our way through these complexities.

The wellbeing of registrars continues to be of the utmost importance to GPEx. We encourage and support all registrars to incorporate practical strategies for preventing burnout and promoting wellbeing into their training plan, and have a specialised suite of training, resources and supports to foster their wellbeing.

We are also continuing to work collaboratively with the colleges and Department of Health in regards to the transition to college-led training. During this transition period, we are committed to continuing to support registrars, supervisors and practices, and ensure that there is minimal disruption to the training program.

On Tuesday 1 March, Chair of the GPEx Board, Dr Tony Sherbon, and myself gave evidence to the Federal Government’s Senate Inquiry into the Provision of General Practitioner and Related Primary Health Services to Outer Metropolitan, Rural and Regional Australians.

At the hearing in Whyalla, we spoke about the work GPEx has done to make a positive impact in regional, rural and outer metropolitan South Australia around access to GP services, a reduction in rural trainees and workforce retention.

Some of the key points that were shared included:

  • Since 2020, GPEx has driven significant growth in the number of registrars joining the AGPT program from 102 to 123 in 2022.
  • We are also proud of the uplift in the number of registrars joining the rural pathway by 33 per cent (from 35 to 48).
  • Due to this growth, and other strategies to promote rural placements, there are currently 115 rural registrars working in South Australia, comprising approximately 25 per cent of the total rural medical workforce in the state.

GPEx are concerned that the current lack of detail surrounding the transition to college-led training may impact the availability of GP registrars entering the training system in South Australia.

GPEx is committed to supporting a smooth transition to college-led training. We do not want the issues facing primary care exacerbated,  in particular, a reduction in the number of doctors choosing General Practice as a speciality and the number of trainees going into regional and rural placements. We are concerned that the recent gains made in this area may be lost.

For the latest GP Training Transition Update please click here.  A National Consistent Payments Framework Factsheet can also be found here.

Best regards

Stephanie Clota