The Mismatch between Australian Population and General Practice Medical Workforce
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Aims: To review and analyse Australian general practitioner's workforce data for the 2000 to 2010 period by comparing this to Australian population trends and to make informed recommendations about GP workforce planning. Study Design: Descriptive analysis of the available Australian government data on GP workforce and the Australian population between 2000 and 2010. Place and Duration of Study: Griffith University, Australia, between April and November 2011. Methodology: Australian GP workforce data for the 2000 to 2010 period was obtained from the Australian Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) website and population data was obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. A descriptive analysis of workforce trends using variables of interests such as overseas trained GPs, gender, age, professional services during the 11 year period was compared to population trends data. A new GP Workforce Index ratio (GPWIR = No. of GPs <35yrs 砎o. of GPs 35yrs to 64yrs of age) was derived from the data and calculated for each year of the study period. Results: The ratio of female to male GPs has increased by 35% and the percentage of overseas graduates has increased by nearly 35% in the 11 year period, an indication that the 0.12% number of GPs as a percentage of Australian population between 2000 and 2010 was only sustained by increasing the intake of foreign trained graduates. Vocationally registered GPs have increased by 20% in same period. The GP workforce index ratio (GPWIR) decreased from 0.223 in 2000 to 0.118 in 2007; this was followed by a slight increase from 0.120 in 2008 to 0.128 in 2010. Conclusion: The impact that an increase in the number of female GPs graduating from medical schools may have on the overall number of GP services available to the Australian population requires further study, since it was noted in the literature that female GPs are more likely to work part-time than male GPs. The GPWIR may be a useful indicator for evaluating the proportion of the <35yrs old GPs as a proportion of overall GP workforce. Lower GPWIR may be associated with GP workforce shortage. GPWIR increased in the last 3 years of the study corresponding with an improvement in GP supply. In this study, the GPWIR proved to be more effective in predicting overall National GP workforce shortage trend than the DoHA GP per Population ratio of 0.71:1000 (Primarily used for regional and rural workforce shortage prediction). The Department of Health and Ageing may need to keep supporting rural and remote migration of GPs and also maintain an increase in the number of students entering medical schools.
British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research
© The Author(s) 2012. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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