To help get more local doctors trained in the specialties Australia needs, the Morrison Government is providing $708.6 million to continue the Specialist Training Program (STP) for four years from 2022.
Since 2010, more than $1.4 billion has been invested towards the program, which supports training positions outside of traditional metropolitan teaching hospitals.
The program allows participants to train in a multitude of medical environments, including private hospitals, specialist rooms, clinics and day surgeries, Aboriginal Medical Services and non-clinical settings.
Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie said the extension of the program will mean 920 full-time equivalent places annually, with at least 50 per cent of training to occur in regional, rural and remote locations or private settings.
“This four-year extension of the Specialist Training Program allows specialist trainees to continue to take the opportunity to train in rural communities, which we know creates a higher likelihood they will remain or return after their training is completed,” Dr Gillespie said.
“Already the program has benefitted more than 190 regional, rural, and remote locations, and has seen an increase in rural training from 309 full-time equivalent places in 2018 to 380 places in 2020.
“This investment, coupled with our investment in rural GP and rural generalist training, is part of our deliberate strategy to grow our rural medical workforce.”
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said that an important focus for the program from 2022 will be to increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist workforce, aligning the program with the recently released National Medical Workforce Strategy.
“Our Government is committed to improving access to quality health care for all Australians, regardless of where they live. This program is an important foundation for that,” Minister Hunt said.
“The program will help to deliver actions of the National Medical Workforce Strategy, including an increase in specialist training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This ensures that Indigenous Australians and regional Australia more broadly will benefit from a redistribution of the program’s existing specialist workforce, ensuring more services and training can be delivered where it is needed most.”
The additional funding to extend the program is being provided to 13 non-GP specialist medical colleges already funded under the Specialist Training Program. The funded colleges are:
- Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD)
- Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM)
- Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP)
- Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA)
- College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM)
- Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA)
- Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)
- Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG)
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO)
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP)
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR)
- Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)
Further information about the program can be found on the Department of Health’s Specialist Training Program web page.