7.1 Findings for the MTRP
The MTRP was established under s3GC of the Act. The Panel is required to compile information about s3GA training and workforce programs, including participation in these programs. The Panel prepares an annual report to the Minister, which is tabled in Parliament.
The MTRP is currently chaired by a senior executive of DoHA. The membership of the Panel includes a wide range of representatives of medical education and training organisations including medical schools, specialist colleges, medical students and doctors in training, and jurisdictions.
The scope of the 2010 review is the effectiveness of the MTRP in meeting its statutory requirements. In 2008-09, the MTRP underwent an independent review of its workplan and governance arrangements and hence these arrangements are not being covered in this review.
The review has found that the MTRP is successfully meeting statutory requirements to monitor and collect information on s3GA programs, and the medical practitioners who are enrolled in these courses and programs.
Stakeholders use the data provided in the annual reports to monitor trends in: training places; in workforce planning processes to plan for expected trainees in specialist colleges, and in the public and private sector; and for comparison purposes across the specialist colleges. The data is generally viewed as being valuable and stakeholders say the report is useful as it is the only place where the information about medical training is consolidated and trends can be followed.
Most stakeholders who refer to the data indicated that the quality of data has improved over time. They also agree that the Panel is providing valuable advice to Government about the availability and quality of medical care in Australia. A few stakeholders commented on the time lag in the data and would like to see the data produced more quickly or better and more rapid data collection systems developed. Stakeholders also suggest the MTRP provide more analysis of data and for qualitative data to be collected to inform the interpretation.
A number of stakeholders commented that the MTRP data are less useful in monitoring demand for training than they are at monitoring the supply of training places. For example, general practice stakeholders said they lack a broad map of demand for, and availability of, clinical training capacity in general practice - such as the number of supervisors available and the number of medical students, junior doctors and registrars expected each year. Industry stakeholders are also seeking better information about the number of prevocational and vocational training placements available. These stakeholders anticipate that HWA may fill this gap.
The AMA is calling for the MTRP to monitor the accuracy of HWA medical training modelling and training plan. A biennial review by MTRP of clinical training places could identify any gap between actual need for places and the number of places identified through HWA processes.
General practice stakeholders also emphasised the role that the MTRP could play in providing advice about what internships should be available so that training places are not too specialised, and that there are appropriate positions available for junior doctors who want to take a generalist pathway.
Specialist college stakeholders are asking for data collection to be standardised from year to year to allow them to proactively collect data.
GPET is actively seeking routine and regular access to information about the impact of the AGPT program from DoHA. They are also seeking monitoring data about the location, types of activities and billing items being used by medical practitioners in this program; and better access to data about retention of medical practitioners on the AGPT in rural and remote areas. These data will provide information about the achievements of outcomes for the approximate 3,000 placements on these programs and assist in planning. Currently, requests to DoHA must be made quarterly, the process can be slow and information provided is not comprehensive.
Information on outcomes of training and workforce programs would also be useful to the MTRP to meet the requirement to monitor the impact of Medicare provider arrangements.
Many of the additional activities identified by stakeholders as outlined above are outside the scope of what the MTRP is legislated to undertake.
HWA is a relatively new body with a role in coordinating planning for medical workforce training 41 . In 2010, HWA has observer status on the MTRP and the Panel has been invited to contribute to the national medical workforce planning and research collaboration being coordinated by the HWA.
HWA’s remit covers 30 health professions and the organisation has funding for a substantial work program. The MTRP has a broad and representative membership, including all major organisations involved in training medical graduates. The MTRP has no resources or funding for work programs.
Given the overlapping interests but clear differences in the roles and resources, a common view is that the MTRP and HWA should have formal links and that the HWA should draw on the Panel for specific advice and direction regarding medical training.
Stakeholders agree that the membership of the Panel is appropriate and that most key medical training bodies and stakeholders are represented on it. However, three groups involved in medical training and workforce programs are requesting membership of the Panel. These are the RVTS, NAMDS, and RHWA.
7.2 2010 Recommendations for section 3GC
The Government consider amending the legislation to allow the MTRP to undertake additional activities to monitor health services capacity in providing training places for prevocational and vocational doctors and provide advice to DoHA and/or HWA on these issues.
The Government consider amending the legislation to allow the MTRP to monitor the effectiveness of training programs in meeting workforce needs and demands.
The Government consider amending the legislation to allow the MTRP to provide advice about medical training and to develop formal links with HWA.
41 HWA is developing a national training plan for doctors, nurses and mid-wives; the National Health Workforce Planning and Research Collaboration. The Collaboration has a five year work-plan and will develop future scenarios based on information about supply and demand for training at the national, regional and local levels. The goal is for Australia to produce sufficient graduates to meet our workforce needs by 2025.