The Abbott Government’s short term fix for the chaos it’s created with specialist training will do little to end the long term uncertainty with this crucial program.
The Specialist Training Program was established by Labor in 2011 to overcome critical shortages in the number of specialists being trained.
In the surgical area alone, the program has provided 73 new training posts. Crucially, around a third of these are in rural and regional areas which often struggle to attract specialists.
However, the entire scheme was thrown into chaos with the government refusing to confirm if new contracts were to be offered, just weeks before candidate interviews were due to commence.
The Health Minister’s decision today to continue the program for another 12 months comes only after Labor raised this issue in Senate Question Time yesterday.
However, her refusal to commit to the longer term future of the program, the existing 900 positions, or existing funding will simply continue the chaos and confusion that is the mark of this government’s health policy.
The result of any cut to this program is simple: it will see fewer specialists working in areas where they are most needed.
It will see fewer emergency department specialists, surgeons, psychiatrists, pediatricians, physicians and other specialists working in rural and regional areas as well as other areas of high need.
The loss of these training posts will have a detrimental impact on patient care.
Trainees funded by the STP have increased the capacity of participating hospitals to respond to waiting lists and to provide increased patient care.
The Abbott Government must immediately end the chaos and confusion it has caused by coming clean with the colleges about its long term plans for the Specialist Training Program.
The 12 Colleges that offer positions under the Specialist Training Program:
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM)
Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD)
Australasian College of Sports Physicians (ACSP)
Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA)
Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA)
Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG)
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP)
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR)
Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)