Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

Medical practitioners

Page last updated: April 2008

Table 2.3.3: Employed medical practitioners: Number and FTE ratio per 100,000 population by state/territory, 2005

Medical practitioners include GPs, specialists, specialists in training, hospital based doctors and doctors who are employed in a non-clinical role. Medical Labour Force Survey 2005 data is presented in Table 2.3.3. This shows that Western Australia has a far lower rate of all medical practitioners (223 FTE medical practitioners per 100,000 compared to a national average of 287 per 100,000).

NSW

Vic

Qld

WA

SA

Tas

ACT

NT

Total

Number

21,73015,8319,3524,8814,9381,4381,36371960,252

FTE Ratio per 100,000

319304227223302268393337287

(a) FTE is based on 45 total hours per week.
Source: AIHW, Medical Labour Force Survey 2005.

Queensland also has a low rate of medical practitioners compared to other jurisdictions (227 FTE medical practitioners per 100,000). This is in contrast to the above average number of GPs identified in Medicare data in Queensland. It should be noted, however, that the Medical Labour Force Survey 2005 not only captures GPs, but the whole medical practitioner workforce including hospital non-specialists, specialists, specialists-in-training and non-clinicians. Specialists represent about one-third of the workforce in all states. Given that the number of GPs in Queensland is above the national average, it appears that this is in part due to a relatively low rate of specialists compared to other jurisdictions. The rate of specialists in Western Australia is equally low.

It should also be noted that the picture for the Northern Territory (with a very high rate with 337 medical practitioners per 100,000 population) is very different from what was found in the Medicare data. Given the very poor response rate to the 2005 survey from the Northern Territory, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has cautioned data users against making comparisons between the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions.

Table 2.3.4: Medical practitioners: FTE per 100,000 population by Remoteness Area, 2005

Data from the Medical Labour Force Survey 2005 shows that significant disparity still exists between major cities, regional and remote areas. Data on the ratio of FTE medical practitioners per 100,000 population is provided in Table 2.3.4.

Major city

Inner regional

Outer regional

Remote/Very Remote

National

Clinicians

311174145133268
Primary care10088849298
Hospital non-specialist4018132233
Specialist12256381699
Specialist-in-training491210437

Non clinicians

24781419

Total

335181153148287

(a) Regional rates exclude 1,809 practitioners who did not report the region in which they worked.
(b) FTE, Full-time Equivalent is based upon a 45 hour week.
(c) Primary care practitioners as identified in the survey include but are not limited to general practitioners.
Source: AIHW, Medical Labour Force Survey 2005.

Table 2.3.5: Medical workers: Ratio per 100,000 population by state/territory and Remoteness Area, 2006

The data from the Medical Labour Force Survey 2005 cannot be disaggregated by both state/territory and remoteness simultaneously. Information is, however, available from the ABS 2006 Census on all medical workers by state/territory and Remoteness Area. This information is summarised in Table 2.3.5.

Major Cities

Inner Regional

Outer Regional

Remote

Very Remote

NSW

3951471101030

VIC

370149880n.a.

QLD

4151472304642

WA

661111776944

SA

4441501217348

TAS

n.a.31211510292

ACT

378281n.a.n.a.n.a.

NT

n.a.n.a.36322430

National

4171551709639

Source: ABS 2006 Census of Population and Houseing.

It should be noted that the ABS 2006 Census data presents a slightly different picture of the distribution compared to the other data sources, primarily because it presents a headcount of employed medical workers only, not taking into account working hours. The information is, however, useful to show where medical workers actually reside, but is not sufficient to describe the overall level of availability of health professionals (based upon working hours) and whether the populations of these areas have adequate access to services.

Additional information from the 2006 Census of the distribution of medical workers described at the SLA level is provided in Attachment D.