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The medical workforce is continuing to grow, with increased supply across all regions of Australia, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Medical workforce 2012, provides information on the demographic and employment characteristics of medical practitioners who were registered in Australia in 2012.

It shows that in 2012, there were 91,504 medical practitioners registered in Australia.

'Between 2008 and 2012, the number of medical practitioners employed in medicine rose by just over 16% from 68,455 to 79,653,' said AIHW spokesperson Teresa Dickinson.

The supply of medical practitioners across all states and territories compared to the population rose by almost 9% between 2008 and 2012, from 344 to 374 full-time equivalent medical practitioners per 100,000 people.

About two thirds (66%) of medical practitioners gained their initial medical qualification in Australia.

The supply of medical practitioners was not uniform across the country, with supply generally being greater in Major cities than in Remote or Very remote areas. However, the supply of general practitioners was highest in Remote and Very remote areas, at 134 full-time equivalent GPs per 100,000 people.

About 94% (75,258) of employed medical practitioners were working as clinicians, of whom 35% were specialists and 35% were general practitioners. 'Physician', which includes general medicine, cardiology and haematology, was the largest main speciality of practice (5,918). 'Surgery' was the second largest (4,275). Of employed non-clinicians, more than half were researchers (27.8%) or administrators (24.5%).

'Women are increasingly represented in the medical practitioner workforce, with the proportion of female medical practitioners up from 35% to 38% between 2008 and 2012,' Ms Dickinson said.

The average age of medical practitioners remains steady at around 46.

The average weekly hours worked by employed medical practitioners remained stable between 2008 and 2012. In 2012, male medical practitioners worked an average of 45 hours per week, while female medical practitioners worked an average of 38 hours per week.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 24 January 2014

Further information: Teresa Dickinson, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5104, mob. 0439 430 577

Full publication: Medical workforce 2012