Funds for an additional 15 trainee doctors
The ACT health system will welcome 15 new trainee doctors next year under a deal struck with the federal government on Friday.
Under the agreement, the territory will fund an extra five medical internships at an estimated cost of about $100,000 per trainee.
In return, the government will pay for five extra places in the ACT public hospital system and five more internships in private hospitals.
The 15 places are in addition to the recently announced increase from 72 places to 86 next year and will take the total number of internships in ACT hospitals to 101 in 2013.
Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory hospitals will also benefit from similar agreements, increasing national internship places by 116 in total.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the expansion would ensure that more Australian trained doctors remain in the health workforce.
ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Health Katy Gallagher said the announcement would improve access and deliver better health services for all Canberrans.
''These internships are a vital step in the process of training our health professionals and the allocation of funding to this important program is just one of the many ways the ACT government is working to make certain that Canberrans have access to quality health care close to where they live,'' Ms Gallagher said.
''I look forward to seeing the first students taking part in the internships early next year.''
Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton said the deal would help solve the national intern crisis. Dr Hambleton said, before Friday's announcement, there had been a projected shortfall of 180 intern places for 2013.
''This has meant that many locally-trained medical graduates faced an uncertain future or the prospect of having to move overseas in order to continue practising medicine,'' Dr Hambleton said. ''This morning's announcement is promising, but we encourage health ministers to reach a deal to provide the remaining intern places that are needed so that all of these medical graduates have an opportunity to use their skills to provide quality health care in our towns and suburbs.
''The AMA also congratulates those states and territories that have recognised the need to keep these medical graduates in Australia as part of a strategy to address medical workforce shortages and reduce our long-term reliance on international medical graduates.''
But Dr Hambleton said medical workforce issues were much broader than just intern training, with shortages in pre-vocational training positions emerging.
''Health Workforce Australia has predicted a shortage of 450 first year specialist training places in 2016.
''Health ministers still have more work to do. It is essential that a long-term and sustainable plan is developed to ensure that the record numbers of students graduating from medical schools across the country can go through to complete specialist training and deliver the medical services that the community needs now and into the future.''