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$40m boost to private hospital internships

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The Federal Government has taken a step toward easing the pressure on internship places, unveiling a scheme to place up to 100 medical graduates a year in private hospitals around the country.

Under the $40 million scheme, to run over the next four years, up to 100 Australian-trained international medical graduates a year will be able to complete their training in private hospitals in regional areas.

Health Minister Peter Dutton said the Commonwealth Medical Internship Scheme will, in its first year, fund 61 internships in Queensland and 15 in WA.

Interns taking part in the scheme will be based in Townsville, Mackay, Bundaberg, Brisbane and Perth, and will do rotations in Kingaroy, Noosa, Hervey Bay, Mount Isa, Joondalup, Mandurah and Tweed Heads.

“These private sector internships are an important addition to the internship places provided by the states and territories in public hospitals,” Mr Dutton said.

A dramatic surge in the number of medical school graduates in recent years has placed enormous pressure on post-graduate training places, which have not increased sufficiently to meet demand, necessitating last-minute fixes involving the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to ensure most graduates can get an internship.

Resolution of the issue has been dogged by disputes between the different levels of government over who should fund the extra internship places.

The AMA is on an advisory committee (the National Medical Training Advisory Network Executive Committee) that has been formed to recommend ways to improve the planning and coordination of training and get rid of wasteful bottlenecks and shortages.

Health Workforce Australia said the Network would enable, for the first time, the creation of a nationally coordinated medical training system.

In the meantime, Mr Dutton said the extra training places made available through the Commonwealth Medical Internship Scheme would help address the internship crisis.

“This investment will further support Australia’s medical workforce and, with the shortage of doctors at critical levels in many areas across the country, it’s important to provide these opportunities outside metropolitan centres,” the Minister said.

Mr Dutton said working with private hospitals to enhance training opportunities was an example of the innovative solutions the Government was committed to delivering to strengthen the health workforce.

Adrian Rollins