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For the past 18 months, we have been eagerly awaiting the outcomes of the RACGP review of the Specialist Pathway. Some of the proposed changes would have had a negative impact on workforce supply. However, the changes announced last week represent a happy compromise that meets the needs of the Australian community while still meeting the requirements of the Medical Board of Australia (aka AHPRA)

The Specialist Recognition Pathway (SRP) will launch on the 3rd September 2018. Any applications for the SPP will need to be submitted before the 31st August 2018 to be assessed under the SPP system – these will be subject to the current SPP policies and procedures.

What’s the good news?

For GPs with qualifications that are currently “Category 1”,  are highly likely to be assessed as ‘substantially comparable’ and therefore will be eligible for Specialist Registration and full Medicare billing rights.

The qualifications that are currently assessed as ‘Category 1” are:

  • MRCGP (UK)
  • MICGP (Ireland)
  • FRNZCGP (New Zealand)
  • CFPC and evidence of qualifying examinations (Canada)
  • Fellowship of the College of Family Physicians (Singapore)

For those GPs with older qualifications that were not ‘Category 1’ such as JCPTGP from the UK, there will be the opportunity to demonstrate additional training or experience to allow them to proceed to Fellowship more quickly.  Whereas in the past, there was a ‘blanket’ approach to these applications, the new system will allow doctors to be assessed on their own individual merits.

What is changing?

The new (Specialist Recognition Pathway) SRP includes an assessment of a GPs comparability to Australia trained GPs. This assessment will include a desktop review of GPs:

  • Specialist qualification and the route to your specialist qualification (Training, exams)
  • Recency of practice
  • Participation in CPD
  • Experience in General Practice
  • Other qualifications

After this assessment, the GPs will be assessed as substantially comparable, partially comparable or not comparable.

After you have completed 6 months of work in Australia, you will need to complete a Workplace Based Assessment (WBA) which is completed by the RACGP and includes self-reflection, patient surveys, and a simple mentor report.   There will also be a practice assessment visit by an RACGP officer.

Next steps for doctors coming to Australia?

We anticipate that processing times will be longer during the transition period while the new systems are being tested.  The new fee schedule will also be higher than before in order to accommodate the practice visit from the RACGP and the increased effort required for assessment.  If you are planning to come to Australia in the near future, it’s probably best to apply now to avoid delays.