Overall medical workforce growing, but general practice workforce shrinking

23 Jan 2013

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the Medical Workforce 2011 report shows encouraging signs of growth in Australia’s overall medical workforce, but a relative decline in the supply of general practitioners raises serious concerns about patient access to quality primary care.

Dr Hambleton said that the report provides further evidence about the uneven distribution of the medical workforce around the country and highlights decreases in the supply of some key specialty areas.

“The good news is that there was a 17 per cent increase in the number of doctors between 2007 and 2011,” Dr Hambleton said.

“There was also an increase in the supply of doctors working in rural and remote areas, but the rural medical workforce is still lagging well behind the metropolitan workforce.

“On the downside, the report shows that general practice is still not getting its fair share of the growth in workforce numbers.

“The supply of specialists-in-training, specialists, hospital non-specialists and other clinicians all increased, but the supply of GPs fell from 111.9 to 109.7 full time equivalent per 100,000 population between 2007 and 2011.

“The AMA has called for further investment in general practice, including an increase in the first year intake to the GP training program to 1500 a year (currently 1100) by 2016, to help build the GP workforce to sufficient numbers to meet community need.

“The report shows decreases in the supply of physicians, pathologists and surgeons.

“We will be encouraging all governments and Health Workforce Australia (HWA) to address the need for more specialist training positions in the future, particularly as HWA is predicting that there will be an inadequate number of specialist training places for the growing number of medical graduates.

“We need to start planning for this now and setting aside the necessary funding if the community is to have access to the medical workforce it needs into the future,” Dr Hambleton said.

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