Stop Passing the Buck on Surgical Training
By Australian Medical Association
Apr 11, 2005, 20:32

AMA President, Dr Bill Glasson, said that State and Territory Government's needed to take the issue of surgical training more seriously, otherwise recent efforts to increase surgical training numbers would be wasted.

This follows a letter sent by Dr Glasson to all State and Territory Health Ministers in February this year urging them to provide more funding, resources and infrastructure in preparation for the increased number of surgical trainees in the system from 2007 onwards.

Dr Glasson said the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) last year increased the number of entrants to the basic surgical training (BST) program from 240 to 265, following a strong campaign by the NSW and Victorian Governments.

"At a time when there is a shortage of medical specialists in Australia, we have to start training for the future now, but the States must take responsibility for their share of the funding and resourcing," Dr Glasson said.

"Today's cohort of BST trainees will be progressing to Advanced Surgical Training (AST) in 2007 but currently there are not enough AST positions available to take the next generation of Australian surgeons.

"The planning must start now. The necessary infrastructure and training of clinicians cannot be plucked out of the air in 2007. Judging by today's comments in the media, some of the states seem to be going cold on this idea.

"Suggestions that this is not an issue for some states, or that it is somehow linked to the number of medical school places are simply a diversion. These trainees have already started their basic surgical training and it is up to the states to find them AST places.

"The College has done its bit by raising the intake to meet the demands of the States and Territories. The States and Territories must start putting the training infrastructure in place immediately.

"They must also make the necessary budget adjustments to ensure the funds are available to guarantee the required level of surgical activity, support and supervision. Bed closures and artificial limits on operating time are not the answer.

"More importantly, systems must be established to ensure that there are enough clinicians with the appropriate range and depth of experience to pass on to the next generation of specialists.

"There has been a lot of rhetoric from the States about this issue, however, when it comes to putting up real dollars and resources they seem to be shifting gears into reverse.

It's time they put up or shut up," Dr Glasson said.

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