More medical students will not equal more GPs: AMA (WA)

More medical students will not equal more GPs: AMA (WA)

Wednesday 12 February 2014


The number of general practitioners in Western Australia will NOT be boosted by an increase in the number of medical students, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.


Criticising a recently released “independent” report into medical education in the State, AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong said only an increase in GP training positions would provide additional doctors.


“Let’s be clear – a report commissioned and paid for by Curtin University is not independent. Rather it is a continuation of a strong desire by Curtin University to have a medical school without considering the implications of such a decision,” Dr Choong said.


“Using this so-called independent report to support an argument that there is a need for more medical students in WA is a poor excuse for a detailed examination into this important issue.


“Issues surrounding the supply and distribution of GPs in WA are not as simple as Curtin University might wish us to believe. The supply of GPs will not be solved by merely adding more medical graduates to the mix,” Dr Choong said.


New medical graduates have to be trained as GPs, a process which can take many years.


“We would urge Federal and state governments to fund additional GP training places,” Dr Choong said.


The AMA (WA) is currently in discussions with WAGPET – the organisation that organises GP training – to see how Federal and state governments can boost the number of training places.


“This is the only step that will provide more GPs.”


Thanks to efforts by a number of individuals and groups – including the AMA – WA’s two medical schools (Notre Dame University and the University of WA) will see a large increase in the number of graduates over the new few years.


“We are not short of doctors. We are short of GPs, and their distribution into remote and regional areas needs to be improved.


“Establishing an additional medical school will not fix the GP shortage.


“There is no evidence whatsoever that a new medical school would ‘solve’ the issue of the supply of doctors – especially GPs,” Dr Choong said.


Dr Choong also questioned some of the data used in the “independent” report, especially in light of WA’s slowing economy and continued fall-off in population growth.

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