Training for NT General Practitioners facing a grim future


The national trend for declining enrolments in General Practitioner training is most profound: Between 2016 and 2020 new enrolments in the NT fell by 50%, a stark comparison to the 12% national decline, and which “could spell disaster”.

Professor John Wakerman, of Remote and Rural Health Services Research, looked at the factors and how to overcome them, according to a media release.

And Menzies School of Health Senior Research Fellow Deb Russell says: “We found that the most important phase of training to invest in was the period of time from when medical students graduated to when they first enrolled in a specialty training program.

“Many are still making up their minds about their career path at this time.”

There is need for training opportunities outside of hospitals, in primary care, and to select junior doctors for (popular) intern and other hospital training positions who are interested in rural “generalism,” for example general practice with special interest in Aboriginal health or remote medicine, and in staying in the NT longer term.

This needs a coordinated response from multiple agencies – including the Australian and NT government Departments of Health, GP Colleges, Regional Training Organisations such as NT General Practice Education (NTGPE), and primary care services.

CEO Stephen Pincus says NTGPE is concerned about the new approach to GP training being developed by the Commonwealth Government, which will see training and education split between various bodies and likely further impact GP training in the NT, particularly in remote communities.

“While the Menzies report found a positive impact of the John Flynn Placement Program, which brought medical students from interstate to remote communities in the NT, the Commonwealth Government has since decided to cancel the program.”

PHOTO from the NTGPE website.


  1. Perhaps student doctors should be told just how much money GPs can make here.
    Typically the cost of a consultation is $81 with $36 returned by Medicare so $45 out of pocket cost.
    There are no bulk billing alternatives for working families.
    We have one of the highest GP costs in the country.
    Presumably GPs in the NT have incomes far in excess of their bulk billing counterparts interstate.

  2. @ Jon: The average GP consultations per day is 25 so our local GPs should have a revenue of around $2000 per day.
    Deduct 25% for clinic costs makes $1500 to the GP per day or $7500 a five day week and more than $300,000 a year.
    That does appear to be much higher than the national average income for GPs.
    Interesting that there is a shortage of medical students becoming GPs in the NT.

  3. Interesting GP consultations have different costs. I paid $95 last time and Medicare reimbursed me $75.50 hence $29.95 out of my pocket.
    Which I think is fair.

  4. @ Evelyne Roullet. Yours would have been a non standard consultation.
    Nationally nine out of 10 Australians pay nothing to see a GP.
    They are bulk billed.
    As for out of pocket fees being fair, I think GPs can make very good salaries for themselves without them.
    It’s out of pocket expenses approaching $50 for a standard consultation that are unfair.
    Add the cost of filling a script on top of that.
    These costs put a big burden on families.


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