What are the challenges facing Australia’s medical workforce crisis?

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 What are the challenges facing Australia’s medical workforce crisis?
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Highlights

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the Australian healthcare workforce crisis.
  • Go8 has urged that the upcoming government must bolster the medical workforce of Australia
  • Australia requires at least an additional 1,000 domestic graduates per year

The health and welfare workforces deliver various services through Australia's private and public organisations. However, there is an imbalance in the system as the extent of services delivered is way lesser than what is actually needed, primarily due to workforce crisis.

The accurate picture of the healthcare workforce crisis in Australia was revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the period, the biggest challenge was not the supply of medicine or equipment but the availability of a skilled workforce.

However, the bitter truth is that the workforce crisis has not been caused by the pandemic; it has merely been exposed and worsened by COVID-19 onslaught.

Do read: Federal Election 2022: Healthcare needs and promises

Challenges facing medical workforce

According to a report released by the Group of Eight (Go8), Australia requires at least an additional 1,000 domestic graduates per year.

  • Demand is increasing every year, but the supply of resources is not proportionate to the demand.
  • The medical workforce is highly specialised and needs years of education and training. The workforce cannot be quickly increased as in other specialities

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The Group of Eight, which educates 62% of Australia's medical graduates, is a coalition of elite research universities. The body has published a policy paper recommending medical reforms to the Federal government.

Go8 has recommended the upcoming government to bolster the medical workforce of Australia to address the anticipated 2030 workforce demands by increasing the number of commencing Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) for domestic medical students by a minimum of 1,000 over four years.

It recommended that universities ensure an increased focus in medical school training on the burden of diseases in the Australian community, including the prevalence of mental health conditions.

Go8 further warned that it was unsustainable to depend on the recruitment of internationally trained doctors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic due to increased burnout, putting Australia in a medical workforce crisis.

Unequal geographic distribution of the medical workforce

Geographical maldistribution of the medical workforce in Australia is an old issue, which continues to be a challenge in the present, as well. Medical graduates are more likely to fill metropolitan opportunities creating more shortages and affecting regional, rural, and remote (RRR) Australians.

There is an increased need for medical and health infrastructure, and staff necessary to supervise an increased level of training.

In essence, Australia needs more workforce with right skills and training so that Australians can get the required medical care in time.

Also read: Healthcare in Australia: Insights into budget and election promises

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