Medical workforce grows, supply improves in outer regional areas

The number of medical practitioners in Australia increased by 13% between 2006 and 2010, and the supply of doctors in outer regional areas improved, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Medical Workforce 2010, provides information on the demographic and employment characteristics of medical practitioners who were registered in Australia in 2010. Most of the detailed information in the report excludes Queensland and Western Australian practitioners due to registration renewal in these states closing after the national deadline.

The proportion of women in the medical practitioner workforce continued to grow, from 34% of employed practitioners in 2006 to 37% in 2010, while the average age of all practitioners remained stable at 46 years.

Across Australia (excluding Queensland and WA), over 90% of all medical practitioners worked as clinicians, of whom 36% were specialists and 35% were GPs.

The average weekly hours worked by employed medical practitioners decreased slightly from 43.5 hours in 2006 to 43.3 hours in 2010. Over the same period, average hours worked by men decreased slightly, while hours worked by women increased.

The supply of medical practitioners varied across areas of remoteness, ranging from 400 full-time equivalent (FTE) medical practitioners per 100,000 people in Major cities to 185 per 100,000 people in Outer regional areas.

‘The larger supply of medical practitioners in Major cities reflects the much higher numbers of specialists and specialists-in-training working in Major cities,’ said AIHW spokesperson Teresa Dickinson.

‘When looking only at the supply of general practitioners (GPs), the numbers are quite similar—105 FTEs per 100,000 people in Major cities and 103 FTEs per 100,000 people in Outer regional areas.’

Between 2006 and 2010, the number of employed medical practitioners in Major cities increased by 10.0% and in Outer regional areas, by 11.9%, which was more than the population growth in these areas.

Medical practitioners in Outer regional areas in 2010 worked, on average, 2 hours per week more than the national average (45.3 compared with 43.3). GPs in Outer regional areas worked an average 44.5 hours a week compared with the national average for GPs of 39.2 hours.

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, 26 March 2012

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

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