Hospital Skills Program (HSP)
The Gap in Medical Education and Training
A review of emergency medicine training in NSW in 2005 found that there were 145 emergency departments in NSW, and only approximately 40 of them had emergency medicine specialists on staff. The remaining hospitals were staffed by other doctors including Career Medical Officers (CMOs), Multiskilled Medical Officers (MMOs), Senior Resident Medical Officers (PGY3+ doctors), GP-VMOs, hospitalists and long term locums.
The review also found that there was a great deal of concern about the training provided to this group of "non-specialist" doctors. Their level of skill and knowledge was dependent on their level of experience, their personal efforts to obtain training and education and the efforts of their employer to provide them with education and training. This often meant they were getting excellent training, however some were falling through the gap.
Development of the Hospital Skills Program began in 2006 to provide a structured program for doctors dedicated to the hospital system, and on whom the system relies. Reports were provided to the NSW Department of Health in June 2006 and March 2007.
On Thursday 15 November 2007 a media release from the then NSW Minister for Health, Reba Meagher, announced that funding will "be provided for the training networks to expand the number of ED professionals in rural and regional NSW. The package includes funding to up-skill non-specialist doctors." Funding was provided in January 2008, and the Hospital Skills Program began.
Today the Hospital Skills Program provides continuing professional development for 'non-specialist' doctors (SRMOs, CMOs, hospitalists, GP VMOs and others) working in NSW Health. The program uses a variety of traditional and non-traditional resources and methods appropriate to the working environment of the participant, resulting in the acquisition of skills useful to an employer, and appropriate to the local patient community.