11 October 2021

RACGP leaders visiting the Northern Territory to tackle GP workforce concerns

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) leaders are in the Northern Territory to meet with key health stakeholders and tackle GP workforce concerns.

After attending the College’s Northern Territory Fellowship ceremony on Saturday, Vice President Dr Bruce Willett and Rural Chair Dr Michael Clements are set to meet with key health stakeholders on Monday, including Chief Health Officer Dr Hugh Heggie, Northern Territory Primary Healthcare Network and Northern Territory General Practice Education. Dr Willett was standing in for RACGP President Dr Karen Price who was unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions.

On Tuesday, Dr Clements will fly to Alice Springs to meet with GPs and hear stories of what’s happening on the ground and what support is needed to ensure high-quality care to communities.

Dr Clements will meet with Dr Sam Heard, Medical Director at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Central Australia, visit local practices and Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa) Indigenous community.

Dr Bruce Willett said improving access to care in the Northern Territory was essential.

“We are well aware of the challenges when it comes to access to primary care in the Northern Territory. There are simply not enough GPs in the training and practising across the state, particularly in rural and remote areas.

“Everyone deserves access to high-quality general practice care, regardless of their postcode. Without this, we see patients end up in hospital with much worse health issues that could have been managed in general practice.

Dr Michael Clements said addressing GP workforce challenges was a priority for the RACGP.

“Australia’s peak body for general practice, representing most of our rural and remote GPs, the RACGP is uniquely placed to address GP workforce challenges by tapping into our members and listening to their concerns. Nobody understands the problems better than the GPs who are out there working hard in rural and remote communities.

“The transition of the Australian General Practice Training program back to the specialist colleges is an opportunity to reform our GP training system, and improve the distribution of GPs for the long-term benefit of communities Australia-wide

In April the RACGP released its blueprint for general practice training – Profession-led, Community-based Training – which aims to attract more graduates to become a GP and do their training in the communities that need them most.

There are well-documented challenges with attracting medical students to specialise as a GP, and to live and work in rural and regional communities. While there are many factors behind this, research shows GPs who get a taste of rural life by training there are more likely to choose to stay living there and enjoy all the benefits of a career in rural practice.

The transition of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program back to the general practice colleges, including RACGP, was announced by the Federal Minister for Health in 2017.


RACGP spokespeople are available for comment.

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About the RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

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