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Chapter 6: The future of the general practice workforce

6.3 The impact of COVID-19 on GPs in training

GPs in training are experiencing unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to uncertainty around employment, training and exams, they manage the professional and personal challenges of being a frontline healthcare worker in difficult times. GPs in training are adaptable learners, as demonstrated by their uptake of telehealth and non–face-to-face teaching modalities.

In mid-April 2020, almost one in three GPs in training reported they had needed to take leave due to self-isolation or illness. Some reported that they were able to work from home during isolation; however, many others needed to use their personal or annual leave allowances. For 6%, this leave was unpaid.57

Three in four GPs in training reported a decrease in their patient load since the COVID-19 pandemic, and for half of these this was a significant decrease (Figure 64).

As discussed in section 2.3, the pandemic has dramatically increased the uptake of telehealth in general practice. This is true for GPs in training as well, with 97% reporting they had used telehealth to deliver care, either from home or from their place of work.57

As discussed in Chapter 3, a number of practices had to reduce staff hours in order to remain viable during the pandemic. This challenge impacted GPs in training, with 13% reporting their hours had been reduced, and a further 5% reporting that their employer was considering reducing their hours.57

Free text responses to the survey demonstrated that GPs in training were concerned about the disruption COVID-19 has caused to their training and employment, and the potential effects on their career and training progression.57

A range of policy changes were made to provide GPs in training with more support and flexibility during their training time.

Figure 64. Three in four GPs in training reported a reduced patient load since the start of the pandemic

Three in four GPs in training reported a reduced patient load since the start of the pandemic

Measure: Responses to survey questions regarding changes to patient load since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (including both face-to-face and telehealth)
Base: Total survey respondents, n = 1081
Data source: General Practice Registrars Australia. Impacts of COVID-19 on GP trainee employment survey: Summary report. Melbourne: GPRA, 2020.

  • 57. General Practice Registrars Australia. Impacts of COVID-19 on GP trainee employment survey: Summary report. Melbourne: GPRA, 2020.

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