Health Workforce

How is national health reform improving the recruitment and retention of practitioners to implement the services?

Building the capacity of the health workforce to respond to the challenges of the future is a critical element of health reform. Detailed information on health workforce initiatives can be found at National Health Reform: Progress and Delivery.

To better equip Australia’s health system to meet the growing demand for health services into the future, the Commonwealth Government will invest $1.8 billion over four years from 2010-11 to 2014-15 to train more GPs and specialists in places where we need them, and better support nurses working in general practice, aged care and rural areas, and allied health professionals and students working or training in rural areas.

Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has been established as a national body to address Australia’s critical health workforce planning, training and reform priorities. HWA will seek to address the future challenges of providing a health workforce that responds to the needs of the Australian community. The key program areas for HWA are workforce planning; information and analysis; clinical education and training; workforce innovation and reform; and international recruitment.

Are there plans to employ physicians’ assistants or mid-level providers to increase or improve the access to primary health care, especially in rural and remote areas?

There are no plans to employ physicians’ assistants. Medicare Locals will undertake population health planning to identify local health needs; models of care best suited to address service gaps; and resourcing needs. Such resourcing includes workforce, eHealth, infrastructure and funding structures.

The Australian Government, as a result of its Primary Health Care Strategy and through National Health Reform has put in place a number of nursing and midwifery initiatives and programs to increase and improve access to primary health care including rural and remote areas. These measures include support for nurse practitioners, midwives and practice nurses and will improve the flexibility and capacity of the primary health care workforce.

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Page last updated 27 November, 2011