Specialist Training Program funding

ANZCA currently has funding until February 2018 to manage 58 STP-funded training positions nationally in anaesthesia, pain medicine and intensive care.

The Department of Health are currently developing agreements with the specialist medical colleges to manage STP-funded training positions nationally for a further 3 years.
ANZCA undertakes regular meetings with Department of Health and specialty colleges managing STP which enhances the administration and ensures good management.
The review of the Specialist Training Program by the Department of Health was undertaken in 2015-2016. A draft review report was distributed for comment early September 2016. The final report is expected to be released late October 2016.

ANZCA's Policy unit has a key role in advocating on a range of issues that affect Fellows and trainees. An advocacy campaign for timely decisions, announcements and implementation of funding and operational guidelines for the Specialist Training Program (STP) beyond February 2017 was driven by the Policy unit. This page summarises the key messages that underpinned this campaign. 

What is STP?

The STP is an Australian government initiative that helps fund training positions across a number of specialties as part of the accredited specialist training rotations in settings beyond traditional public teaching hospitals and aim to:

  • Increase the capacity of the health workforce to train specialists by providing training that matches demand and reflects the way health services are delivered.
  • Develop an integrated series of accredited networked specialist-training arrangements focused on healthcare, through which trainees may rotate in the pursuit of specialist qualification.
  • Incorporate trainees into networks that are based on health service delivery requirements of a region with the education potential of training sites matched to the health service delivery inherent in increased availability of a specialist trainee workforce.


Further information on STP

Additional information on STP can be found at:

Specialist training program

Department of health Specialist training program


Benefits of STP

STP is an effective policy initiative to expand specialist training positions in non-traditional settings. By providing additional specialist training positions:

  • Trainees complete rotations without being delayed by insufficient training opportunities.
  • Trainees are given training opportunities not available in traditional public hospital settings, while fulfilling training requirements for Fellowship.
  • Trainees gain experience and orientation to private work and rural practice.
  • The community has increased access to specialist services.
  • There is significant value to hospitals through an increased focus on teaching which is often associated with the provision of higher standards of care.

Feedback from STP funded hospitals

“The training position has always received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the registrars and the private consultants involved.” Flinders Medical Centre
“A successful placement which positively contributed to the progress of the trainee as well as the clinical services provided by the department.” Mount Gambier Hospital
“This position has attracted a high calibre of trainee and provides the incumbent with exposure to pre-hospital care, familiarity with rural hospital and emergency care, understanding of the challenges and varied case mix in rural settings, principles of aviation medicine and medical transport and opportunities to make clinical judgements at consultant level.” Royal Flying Doctor Service

“The trainees working in this specialty were provided with a wide range of experience in the breadth of generalist adult anaesthesia, after hours obstetric call and epidural service... they gained experience in assessing and managing patients preoperatively and liaising with other specialists and rural General Practitioners... (they) also gained experience in managing generalist elective cases with appropriate supervision and working with other specialty areas such as Critical Care/Retrieval/Acute Pain Service”. Tamworth Hospital


Issue in brief

As a result of the 2015 Advocacy campaign spearheaded by ANZCA, the federal government continued funding for a further hospital employee year (HEY) ending February 2017. The colleges which manage STP engaged in a consultative process with the Department of Health (DoH) regarding the funding and operational guidelines for this program for the next 3 to 4 years. The timing of the decisions and the announcements that confirm them remain critical to the recruitment of quality trainees into ANZCA’s STP training posts in settings beyond traditional public teaching hospitals.


What was ANZCA’s strategy?

ANZCA responded to the discussion paper distributed by the Department of Health (DOH) in September 2015 and the College has met face–to- face with the Department to outline our position further.

ANZCA built on the base provided by the 2015 advocacy strategy and further developed a plan that outlined how we advocate for the timely announcement and implementation of the continuation of funding for STP beyond February 2017 and what the operational framework will be.
ANZCA implemented our plan to influence policy and resource allocation decisions by the Australian government for the benefit of existing and future STP-funded hospitals and training networks.
ANZCA’s goal were to:
  • Ensure that sufficient notice was provided to Colleges and funded hospital sites so that they could for plan for activities post February 2017.
  • Ensure plans for any changes to service delivery models included consultation from the outset with colleges and health sector representatives.
  • Gained a commitment for continued STP funding beyond February 2017.
  • Influenced government policy to the benefit of the overall vocational training system.


Key messages

There were four key messages that highlight the overarching priorities and essential work of STP. ANZCA asked that these key messages were used to demonstrate a strong, united sector voice to advocate for timely decisions, announcements and implementation of funding and operational guidelines for the STP beyond February 2017.

The Specialist Training Program

  • Works to address the maldistribution of anaesthetists across Australia and the lack of access to pain medicine specialists in regional and rural Australia.
  • Increases flexibility for anaesthesia and pain medicine training in private, rural and regional settings.
  • Adds value to anaesthesia and pain medicine training by providing exposure and orientation to private work.
  • Provides access to subspecialty experience not available in the public hospital or where there are “bottlenecks” for module completion.

Take action

Advocacy undertaken at a local level using the key messages outlined above supported ANZCA's activities and delivered a stronger message to the Australian government. There  were a number of activities that Fellows, trainees and hospital administration participated in to enhance the College’s strategy:

  • Highlighting the need for timely decisions, announcements and implementation regarding STP funding and operational guidelines to your local government member/s.
  • Inviting decision makers to visit STP funded hospitals.

We urged you to speak to your local member and highlight, not only the positive differences that STP has made to your hospital and specialist training, but what would be at risk if the decisions and announcements about ongoing funding and the operational guidelines are delayed. It was important that the Australian government had a complete picture of how their policy direction might affect the future of specialist training. Your input helped shape the priority given to making these decisions and announcements.

Write a letter

This was a very effective way of forwarding your concerns to politicians. We encouraged members to personalise the letter; a well-crafted, passionate and personal letter often have the greatest effect.


Request a hospital visit 

The best way to leave a strong and lasting impression with your MP is to meet with them personally to ask them to support the need for timely decisions, announcements and implementation of the continuation of funding for STP and what the operational framework will be. We requested that you suggest a visit to your hospital enabling your MP to see firsthand how the funding has created positive outcomes.

For further information please contact the STP team on +61 3 9510 6299 or stp@anzca.edu.au.

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