Increasing the supply of health workers and facilitating a more even distribution of the workforce, both in terms of geography and of the types of services provided, is a key focus of Government investment in health workforce support. The majority of programs offered by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), including the education and training activities examined in Chapter 3 and the education, retention and distribution initiatives targeted specifically to rural areas, dealt with in Chapter 4, all contribute to the overarching goal of ensuring there are enough health professionals available to meet the needs of the Australian community.
Overseas trained health professionals continue to play a significant role in the delivery of health care in Australia, particularly in rural and remote areas. This chapter will examine the Government’s regulatory approach to, and support for, overseas trained health professionals, including consideration of the District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) classification system, which is used to determine the locations in which overseas trained doctors are eligible to provide Medicare-subsidised services.
This chapter will also consider programs that address the undersupply of medical practitioners in areas of workforce shortage through the use of return of service obligations, and through the provisions of the Medicare Provider Number legislation.