Building the capacity of Australia’s health workforce to respond to the future health system challenges is an important element of National Health Reform.
Priorities for the Government are to improve access for all Australians to health and aged care services through the expansion of the health and aged care workforce and to provide health professionals with the skills and training opportunities they need to respond to prepare Australia’s health system for future generations.
This will mean more general practitioners and specialists trained in and recruited to places where they are needed and better support for nurses working in general practice, aged care and rural areas, and more allied health professionals and students working or training in rural areas.
Health Workforce AustraliaAn initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Health Workforce Australia (HWA) was established to meet the future health system challenges facing Australia, by providing a health workforce that responds to the needs of the Australian community.
A national body, the HWA operates across the health and education sectors and is addressing Australia’s critical health workforce planning, training and reform priorities.
Investing in Australia’s workforceTo address current workforce shortages and better equip Australia’s health system to meet the growing demand for health services into the future, the Government is investing $1.8 billion over four years from 2010–11 to 2014–15 to bolster the health workforce and ensure Australians’ have enough doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.
This investment is delivering:
- 5,500 new GPs or GPs undergoing training over the next decade ($656.9 million over five years to 2014–15) including 1,375 more general practitioners practising or in training by 2013;
- 975 places each year for junior doctors to experience a career in general practice during their postgraduate training period by 2012 ($195.2 million over five years to 2014–15);
- 680 more specialist doctors over the next decade ($210.7 million over five years to 2014–15);
- a comprehensive package of measures to support the aged care workforce;
- for the first time, locum support to enable up to 7,500 rural nurses and 1,000 rural allied health workers over the next decade to take leave to access professional development activities to keep their skills up to date ($42.5 million over five years to 2014–15);
- 1,000 extra clinical placement scholarships for allied health students over the next decade ($8.2 million over five years to 2014–15); and
- the Government will also invest $575.6 million over five years to support general practice nurses to work as part of a team to manage patients’ care within a practice, improving patient’s access to primary care in partnership with GPs.
Supporting general practitioners and specialistsTo address doctor shortages in regional and remote areas the Government provided a $6 million expansion of the rural clinical placement scholarships from 1 July 2010 to provide an extra 100 places a year for allied health students to complete placements in a rural area.
The Government is also investing $640 million over the next four years to train more doctors to tackle doctor shortages. This will reduce pressure on hospitals and make it easier for patients to access GPs and specialist doctors, especially in rural, regional and remote areas.
Accounting for previous investments, there will be 1,375 more GPs practicing, or in training, by 2013 and 5,500 GPs undergoing training in the next decade. The Government will also double the number of places for medical students to train to become a GP, from 600 in 2007 to 1,200 in 2014, to ensure that there are enough GPs to meet demand in the future. On top of this, 680 specialist doctors will be trained over the next decade.
As part of the ongoing development of general practice training programs the Government has, and continues to, work closely with General Practice Education and Training (GPET) Limited.
In 2011, the Government has also been working closely with specialist medical colleges, including the execution of funding agreements to develop and expand the Specialist Training Program (STP). Specialist doctors have started work across Australia in Commonwealth supported training places as part of a $356 million commitment to boost specialist doctors across the country.
During 2011, 518 full time equivalent specialist medical training posts have been funded under the STP by the Australian Government. It is expected that an additional 82 training posts will be funded during 2012 following a highly competitive STP application round. The major priority areas identified for support in this application round were:
- new training posts in rural, regional and remote areas, and
- new private sector training posts.
The application process for the 2012 intake of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program opened in May 2011 and the selection process is planned to conclude by November 2011.
The DoctorConnect website has been developed by the Department of Health and Ageing to assist doctors trained outside of Australia or doctors interested in working in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Supporting nurses, midwives, and allied health workersThe Government is taking action to reduce shortages facing the health workforce, to expand capacity and deliver better health outcomes for all Australians. There is a need more health professionals, especially in rural, regional and remote areas, to meet the increasing demands of the ageing population and changing burden of disease.
Fact sheets are available on workforce reforms, including recruitment:
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) are also available on workforce reforms and recruitment:
- Working in the health system
- Where can I find out more about working in the health system?
- Recruitment and retention and rural and remote workforce
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation NetworkThe Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the organisation responsible for the implementation of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme across Australia.
In March 2008, COAG decided to establish a single National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for 10 health professions, for introduction on 1 July 2010.
Since 1 July 2010, the following 10 professions have been regulated under this National Scheme: chiropractors; dental practitioners (including dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists & dental therapists); medical practitioners; nurses and midwives; optometrists; osteopaths; pharmacists; physiotherapists; podiatrists; and psychologists.
From 1 July 2012, the following four health professions will be included in the National Scheme: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners; Chinese medicine practitioners; medical radiation practitioners; and occupational therapists.
National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce ReformA number of health reform initiatives are being delivered under the National Partnership Agreement on Hospital and Health Workforce Reform Some of these initiatives include simulated learning environments and clinical teaching and training initiatives in public hospitals.
The initiatives build on the Government’s commitment to increase funding for public hospitals, and specifically workforce development within public hospitals, by sharing equally with the states and territories in the costs of efficient growth funding in the public hospital system, including teaching, research and training in hospitals.
National Health Reform Progress and DeliveryView the National Health Reform Progress and Delivery report.
The Tobacco Plain Packaging Information Kit provides practical information on the responsibilities and obligations of retailers and other suppliers of tobacco products under the new Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011.
eHealth.gov.au is your gateway to Australia's personally controlled electronic health record system, linking you to information about eHealth records and the system itself. Visit www.ehealth.gov.au
On 20 April 2012, the Prime Minister and Minister Butler unveiled a comprehensive package of reforms to build a better, fairer, more sustainable and more nationally consistent aged care system.