The RACGP held a Rural GP Summit on 26 February 2020 in Alice Springs. The purpose of the event was to explore key issues of rural workforce distribution and identify practical solutions that would enable GPs to provide the highest quality care to rural and remote communities.
The Summit was attended by more than 100 delegates representing organisations including the training organisations; state, territory and federal governments; primary health networks; rural workforce agencies; rural clinical schools; and regional training hubs.
Delegates identified key issues which needed to be addressed, and then proposed a range of solutions which could be implemented.
The issues identified included:
- the need for more flexibility in training models to suit the rural context
- the need for financial incentives to attract more GPs to rural and remote areas
- enabling prevocational trainees to experience rural general practice
- implementing evidence that supports effective healthcare models in rural and remote Australia.
The Rural GP Summit report summarises the issues identified and the solutions proposed during the Summit; and is being used by the RACGP to help shape our activities in the short, medium and long term.
Read the report
Update: One year on
In the twelve months since we held the summit the RACGP progressed more than half of the ideas proposed by delegates. Below is a summary of this work. For more information please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve advocated for the ideas presented at the summit in meetings with ministers and Department of Health (DoH) staff, and through consultations responses and submissions.
For example, our 2020-21 pre–budget submission included advocacy for:
- a third party to facilitate employment entitlements
- the protection and portability of general practice registrar entitlements
- investigations into the feasibility of a single-employer model or similar models.
Our submission to the National Medical Workforce Strategy supported the above, while also advocating for:
- a core term in community-based general practice (preferably in rural and remote areas) in the pre-vocational years
- more remote and rural general practice exposure in universities’ undergraduate/graduate medical courses.
The former RACGP President, Dr Harry Nespolon, also wrote directly to the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt regarding support for GPs in training, including support for portable general practice registrar entitlements, financial incentives for rural training places, and support for supervisors and training practices. We have continued to raise these ideas in direct conversations with Minister Hunt and the DoH.
A few of the recommendations focused on the practicalities of filling GP training places and working collaboratively with the Training Organisations. Our Fellowship Pathways and Education Service teams have considered all of these recommendations and taken action, including:
- adding flexibility to the current training standards and rules regarding clinical teaching visits
- adding flexibility to the practice diversity rule, allowing other models where appropriate
- working with the DoH to make the Australian General Practice Training AGPT Rural Generalist policy more accessible
- consulting Training Organisations on the development and delivery of the updated Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) curriculum.
Experience in rural general practice
One of the key areas discussed at the 220 summit was creating opportunities for students, trainees, and Fellows to gain experience working in rural and remote general practice.
One of the specific ideas discussed was a program that connects practices in urban and rural areas, facilitating locum provision, telehealth support, coaching, mentoring, peer-to-peer support etc. We have used this idea to create the Practice to Practice program, which is launching on Monday 1 March.
We will continue to progress the ideas proposed at the 2020 RACGP Rural GP Summit. If you would like any more information please contact our rural team on email@example.com