Doctor shortage crisis could be about to deepen
GOLD Coast Hospital and Health Service is in danger of losing accreditation to train intern doctors, triggering warnings of a potential crisis for public health delivery.
The health service, which covers Gold Coast University Hospital and Robina Hospital, usually employs about 90 interns a year but it's been placed on notice it may lose accreditation to train them if certain conditions fail to be met. It has only been granted one-year accreditation for training interns, running out in January 2020.
Gold Coast Medical Association President Philip Morris said accreditation was normally granted for four years "if they are performing okay".
"This is a serious matter," Professor Morris said. "We want to know from the hospital in a transparent way what is going to be done to correct the problem. This not only affects the doctors' training but also the level of care given to patients."
Interns are in their first year as doctors after medical school, performing important tasks such as admitting and treating patients under the supervision of senior doctors, ordering tests and completing paperwork.
The Gold Coast health service performed badly in an Australian Medical Association Queensland survey of junior doctors late last year, with allegations of workplace bullying and excessive hours.
The health service scored a D-minus overall in the survey, the lowest in Queensland.
In October last year, a 120-page report obtained by The Courier-Mail into junior doctor training on the Coast warned the health service must meet a conditions to ensure ongoing accreditation, citing "significant governance concerns".
Among conditions set by an accreditation review team last year included developing a strategic plan with a "clearly defined model of intern training". Conditions also called for the provision of "appropriately skilled and prepared" supervisors and the development of a reliable process to identify and support interns in difficulty.
In a statement, Gold Coast Health said it was confident it would retain its accreditation.