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DoH update on RHMT and IRTP Funding
David Meredyth, Assistant Secretary (A/g), from Health Training Branch/ Health Workforce Division, Department of Health

David advised the following:

  • Conversation with Govt on how to bring together the different issues that have been successfully funded over a number of years to get better outcomes and address some of the gaps in the rural training system
  • Generous allocation of funding in a tight fiscal environment - $93.8 million over 4 years and 3 different components of that measure:

(i)            Up to 30 Regional Training Hubs to be supported and rolled out from 2017

(ii)          New Rural Junior Doctor innovation fund – trying to address what the department sees as a priority area

(iii)        100 new training posts in the Specialist training program – rurally focused and really different to the standard STP positions

  • From a student perspective, navigating the system is difficult and confusing and at many points in the pathway, encourages students to head back towards the cities in their informative years
  • Limited opportunities for postgraduate training rurally
  • Endeavour to try and remove the disincentives towards keeping a connection with rural communities and a rural focus in the development of graduate careers

(i)      Regional Training Hubs

  • A lot of interest in what a regional training hub is
  • Hubs will be based around existing physical and educational infrastructure of the current regional/rural training network of rural clinical schools and university departments of rural health
  • They will be focused on developing postgraduate training to complement existing rural training networks
  • Up to $14.7 million per year from 2017 onwards to establish the Hubs
  • There will be a process to allocate the funds
  • Department will not pick the sites - Universities to identify where they think the best sites will be
  • Current RHMT programs will be asked to submit proposals to manage hubs
  • Proposals assessed against the criteria to ensure best outcomes and a good national distribution
  • Regional Training Hub vision is around building partnerships and collaboration and working with professional groups and employers to focus on building capacity
  • Criteria will encourage you to demonstrate the partnerships that RCS & UDRHs have in place and how those relationships can be built on
  • Provide core requirements that will fund the successful organisations to put on additional academic and administrative staff to undertake the building and maintaining of existing relationships, facilitate the development of new training capacity and identifying medical students with an interest in rural practice, and provide them with support.

(ii)     Rural Junior Doctor Innovations Fund

  • Specific and targeted investment to address the gap in Junior doctor training around general practice rotations for junior doctors undertaking their internship in a rural area
  • $10 million over 30 years
  • Targeted at rural based interns to foster community based junior doctor training
  • Builds on rural training networks for Junior doctors funded by states
  • Approx 60 FTE places comprising 240 rotations of 10-12 weeks roughly in GP settings
  • Foster community based Junior doctor training
  • Designed to enable rurally based interns to gain experience in general practice as an additional elective
  • Support general practice placements for new doctors

 (iii)   Specialist Training Program

  • Specialist training program expansion of up to 100 new training posts in rural areas
  • Address the gap in the specialist training program
  • Two intakes of 50 posts in 2017 and 2018
  • College led program
  • Department has been liaising with specialist colleges about proposed models of training
  • Colleges should show a clear and organised training pathway and link up with Rural Training Hubs to try and identify the relevant students who are interested in the specialist training places
  • Designed to enable a trainee to complete the majority of their fellowship course living, training and working in a rural region
  • Focus to be just not on educational experience but include student’s background & intern training, which will hopefully indicate that these students are more likely to be rural doctors
  • Trainees selected for funded posts must show a commitment
  • Second round in 2018 – opportunity to build on the program further
  • Targeting of more ATSI students as part of this expansion, linked to university enrolment and graduation of more ATSI medical students
  • $15 million per year to support the extra 100 places
  • Commonwealth is trying to support an innovative, well structured and vibrant environments that produces rural specialists, produces good high quality rural GP’s and have the ability to support rural generalist models
  • Invest in the broader educational space and have lots of regional flexibility to determine what the best pathway is and have good resources on the ground and in place to enable interested and well qualified doctors at the end of the training pathway
  • Not about conscripting people but having different entrance and exit points to produce a good environment which will work in partnership with regionally led collaboration and good integration between the different levels of government, health services and the training facilities.

(iv)    RH Multidisciplinary Training update

  • Doubling of support through UDRHs – $83.1 million to support additional capacity for nursing, midwifery, allied health and dentistry
  • Universities have been asked to increase /renegotiate targets
  • Establishment of 3 new UDRH’s – targeting Kimberley/Broome region in WA, Southern & Central NSW and SE Queensland
  • No specific locations identified as yet
  • Open to all Universities offering commonwealth support places in those disciplines
  • Hopefully start up by January 2017

Contractual commitments

  • Pretty well placed moving into the caretaker period
  • $487 million over next 3 years including UDHR expansion funds
  • All variations will be in place pre-election
  • Next step is to run the Regional Training Hubs round
  • Substantial increase in the RHMT placement training weeks to just under 40,000 by 2018 up from 21,000 now