WA hospitals have 23 fewer new doctors this year than planned after only nine of 32 promised Federally funded intern places were taken up.
The Australian Medical Association described it as a lost opportunity and blamed the Federal Government for being slow to offer the places.
Health Minister Kim Hames said a record 300 State-funded interns started in public hospitals this month and nine Commonwealth-funded interns started at Joondalup Health Campus and Hollywood Private Hospital.
While the extra interns were welcome, there were 23 fewer than Canberra agreed to pay for.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said in Perth in November that the Government would fund 32 medical graduates in WA hospitals this year after the State Government guaranteed all locally trained doctors internships.
Her office said yesterday that though funding was available for 32 interns, fewer graduates than expected took up places. Her spokesman said it was good news because it meant the internships offered more than met demand.
Dr Hames said the 2013 intake was a 70 per cent increase on State-funded places in 2008.
This year's intake would be based at Perth's tertiary hospitals and rotate through other metropolitan, rural and private hospitals and local clinics.
AMA WA president Richard Choong said the State Government did the right thing last year by guaranteeing internships to locally trained doctors and extra places for interstate graduates.
He said other States had not acted as quickly, leading to a stand-off with the Federal Government which delayed its offer of places.
By the time Canberra offered places late last year, would-be interns from interstate and overseas went elsewhere so not all WA places were filled. This was a lost opportunity when WA needed more doctors.