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DoH Update and Q&A
Mr Damian Tuck - Department’s update
  • Advised that he was relatively new to the Branch and still finding his feet as only started as the Assistant Secretary, Health Training Branch, Health Workforce Division, about 3 months ago.
  • Introduced Ms Jennie Della, Director of the Professional Entry and Rural Training Section, Health Training Branch, Health Workforce Division and Dr Susan Wearne, Medical Adviser, Health Workforce Division and the other members of the Branch who were attending today’s meeting.
  • The IRTP for medicine was announced in December last year with funding of around 93.8 million and aims to address the long-standing disconnect in the rural medical training system.
  • IRTP has 3 main components:
(i) Formation of up to 30 regional training hubs
(ii) Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund and
(iii)100 new rural posts in the Specialist Training Program
  • Rural Training Hubs will support coordination of rural training opportunities from undergraduate through to vocational training and will be based around existing physical and educational infrastructure of Rural Clinical Schools and University Departments of Rural Health.
  • Up to 14.7 million per year from 2017 will be provided to form and manage these Hubs.
  • Hubs proposals will officially open on the 11th October and documentation will be sent out on this date.
  • The Rural Junior Doctor Innovation Fund is to support general practice placements for new doctors completing their 1 month intern training period at rural settings across Australia and will be designed to enable rurally based interns to gain an experience in general practice – as an additional elective placement to their core rotations.
  • RJDF will be targeted at rural based interns to enable them to spend some of their training year in rural general practice, building on the rural training networks for junior doctors that are funded by the state and territories.
  • Around 60 FTE places will be supported each year, comprising around 240 rotations into general practice settings by rurally based interns.
  • The hubs, once established, will have an opportunity to work closely with health services in their regions to assist in the development of the Fund proposals for the 2018 placements. Hubs will play a supporting role in the implementation of rural primary care placements for interns working in their regions. This may include assistance with identifying medical graduates who are interested in undertaking further rural training, as well as bringing together the acute and primary care sections at the regional level.
  • Over 10 million per annum is allocated to the Fund with the intended outcome of improving the retention of medical graduates in rural practice.
  • Specialist Training Program – will provide for the expansion of 100 new training posts in rural areas (ASGC RA 2-5).
  • Broken down into two intakes: 50 posts in 2017 and 50 more in 2018.
  • The Department is working with the specialist colleges about proposed models of training to enable a trainee to complete the majority of their training within a rural region (66%); to ensure that trainees selected for IRTP funded posts, show a commitment to working in a rural area; and that the college’s proposed training model shows a clear, organised training pathway for the trainee.
  • The funding for the STP 2017 academic year has been approved and the department is working with stakeholders on the next steps which includes recruitment to STP posts for 2017.
  • The Department is also working with Colleges on the implementation of the IRTP posts for 2017.
  • Majority of these trainings posts will be based at locations that also have a strong RHMT program presence and some positions will be based on a ‘network’ involving more than one key rural site in a region.
  • There will be opportunities for regional training hubs, to perform a similar role as outlined for the RJDTIF in guiding and supporting the implementation of the new rural specialist training positions.
  • Colleges will continue to perform the major fund holding role in partnership with local health services.
  • Through the hubs, universities will be an important link between the college sector, local health services and medical graduates interested in further rural training.
  • A National Rural Health Commissioner will be established to work with rural, regional and remote communities, the health sector, universities and specialist training colleges and across all levels of government to improve rural health policies and champion the cause of rural practice.
  • Commissioner’s first task will be to develop and define the new National Rural Generalist pathway to improve access to training for doctors in regional, rural and remote Australia.
  • Commissioner will work with the health sector and training providers to define what it is to be a Rural Generalist and there will be a number of challenges around a new National Rural Generalist pathway.
  • Commissioner’s role will be much broader and will include consultation with stakeholders to also give consideration to the nursing and allied health needs in rural and remote Australia.
  • National Pathway will require alignment with existing workforce training programs and collaboration with state and territory governments to support these arrangements ensuring greater integration.
  • Over 200 AGPT registrars participating in a state led rural generalist pathway. About 75% are enrolled in Qld, with others training in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the NT.
  • Government also supports rural medical training through procedural grants programs.
  • Department is currently consulting with stakeholders about revisions to the AGPT program policies.
  • Review process includes:
    • Issues raised since previous policies were released in January this year - feedback raised by registrars, RTOs, and other stakeholders over the last 9 months.
      • Feedback from RTOs, GP Colleges, GPTAC, GPRA, GPSA, AMA etc
      • Looking at AGPT data  
      • Feedback and advice from the Policy Review Reference Group
  • Expect revised policies to be available in December and to be implemented on 1 January 2017.