Media release

Junior doctors and medical students call for urgent solution to medical training crisis

Junior doctors and medical students are today calling on all Australian governments to put politics aside and work cooperatively to ensure that all locally-trained medical students are guaranteed an intern place and the opportunity to graduate and use their skills to provide much-needed medical services in local communities across the country.

The AMA Council of Doctors In Training (AMACDT) met in Canberra over the weekend and passed the following resolution:

That the AMA Council of Doctors in Training notes the ongoing failure of Federal and State/Territory governments to address the projected shortfall of 180 intern positions for 2013 and calls on health ministers to work together in a spirit of compromise to finalise a robust solution as a matter of the utmost urgency and, moving forward, agree on a cooperative strategy that will deliver sufficient accredited prevocational and vocational training places for all future graduates of Australian medical schools.

AMACDT Chair, Dr Will Milford, said that the AMACDT notes and supports the Commonwealth Government’s offer to fund, on a one-off basis for 2013, 100 of the forecast 180 intern places needed next year for graduates of Australian medical schools, provided the States and Territories fund the remaining 80 places.

“It is frustrating and disappointing that this offer remains unresolved,” Dr Milford said.

“All governments should immediately make the health needs of the community a priority and resolve this stalemate before moving on to long-term solutions for future medical graduates.

“The broader medical training crisis is not just about intern training.

“We are now also seeing general shortages of pre-vocational training positions emerging, with a reported 260 doctors failing to receive a first round offer in the Hospital Medical Officer (Year 2) recruitment process in Victoria and several hundred resident medical officers (RMOs) in Queensland failing to receive an offer of an RMO position with Queensland Health next year.

“Health Workforce Australia has predicted a shortage of 450 first year specialist training places in 2016.

“Since 2004, we have seen significant growth in medical student numbers to address workforce shortages as part of a 2004 commitment by health ministers to achieve national self sufficiency in health workforce supply, including doctors.

“The collective failure of Governments to address the shortfall in intern training positions for next year is failing the community.

“It is a very worrying sign as Australia faces bottlenecks throughout the medical training pipeline that will see Australian trained doctors left unemployed or forced to move overseas to work.

“Australia needs a long-term and sustainable plan to make sure that the growing number of medical graduates can go through to complete specialist training and deliver the medical services that the community needs.

“The current blame game is putting people’s health at risk.”

Immigration data show that, at a time when we can't find training places for local graduates, Australia is still recruiting large numbers of doctors from overseas to fill junior medical officer positions.

In 2011-12, there were 1260 applications for 457 Class Visas granted by the Department of Immigration for junior medical officer positions.

As at the end of August 2012, there were more than 2000 junior medical officers working in Australia on a 457 Visa.

Dr Milford said that International Medical Graduates (IMGs) have played a very important role in our health system.

“It is important now that our governments adopt foresight and planning to reduce our reliance on IMGs to plug gaps in the health system and build a more sustainable locally-trained medical workforce,” Dr Milford said.


22 October 2012


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