RACP welcomes funding renewal for regional training positions but calls for expansion

23 March 2022

The RACP welcomes news that the Federal government will be renewing the funding for training positions for specialists in regional areas.

These training places are a critical component in ensuring communities have access to specialist health care.

RACP President, Professor John Wilson says “Any move to boost the number of specialists in regional areas is a very welcome one.

“This renewal of the funding for the specialist training program will provide security of funding and assurance to trainees that they will be able to complete their training in a regional area.

There remains a significant shortage of non-GP specialists in many rural and regional areas, and the RACP encourages the Government to expand the program to allow for more positions for specialists to be trained.  

" The RACP currently administers around 380 specialist training program positions across Australia.  The number of places may not be truly enough to address the under resourcing in regional areas. 

“The most common request we receive from medical facilities and physicians is about securing funding for additional training positions. The STP program has been now in place for 10 years and it has been some time since the base program has added funding for additional STP positions.

“The RACP has a waiting list of well over 100 STP positions that are currently unfunded by the program, and we are likely to add even more during next year’s STP Expression of Interest round.

“There is no shortage of interest in these positions – the limiting factor is available government funding.

“If the Federal Government wants to support specialist care in regional areas, the RACP also strongly recommends continuing phone Telehealth for specialist items beyond the current cut-off date of June 30,” says Professor Wilson.

“Currently phone Telehealth MBS items for specialist are due to stop on June 30. Despite the requests from the RACP, the Government is yet to commit to extending these items or making them permanent.

The use of telehealth in STP had been previously in place but was discontinued in 2019.  With the pandemic, telehealth has become a necessary tool in providing medical care in regional areas and reintroducing it as part of the program is needed.  

Cutting off phone Telehealth items for specialist care will have a devastating impact on people in regional and remote areas who currently rely on these items to access this care. 

“The College looks forward to receiving information from the Government about their announcement today, and encourages the Government to consider extending Telehealth for specialist care while they work on boosting numbers on the ground.”

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