//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

Australia’s supposed doctor shortage is ‘a myth’


Doctor Graphs AustraliaThe number of full-time GPs billing on Medicare has surged at more than twice the rate of both population growth and the increase in Medicare payments back to doctors.

The findings, in a paper to be released today by Monash University demographer Bob Birrell, point to a major “over-servicing” problem and explode the theory that much of Australia has a doctor shortage.

Dr Birrell has used recently released 2011-12 Medicare billing data to show that the number of full-time equivalent GPs grew from 18,091 in 2006-07 to 21,119 in 2011-12 – an increase of 17 per cent at the same time that the population grew by 7.8 per cent and commonwealth payments to GPs increased by 8 per cent.

Dr Birrell argues that – with a few exceptions, mainly in remote areas – the notion of a shortage of GPs is “wrong”.

“The level of GP services in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas is well above that considered by medical manpower authorities in the past to be adequate,” he says in the paper.

“This over-servicing is showing up in high bulk-billing rates. By 2011-12 these were more than 80 per cent in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas.”

Dr Birrell says another indicator of the change is the number of GP services billed per person per year in Australia. This increased from 4.9 in 2004-05 to 5.7 in 2011-12.

He warns that the over-servicing is about to get worse.

The number of domestic medical graduates has almost doubled from 1287 in 2004 to 2507 in 2011. About a third are going into general practice, he says.

The number of fully registered Australian-trained GPs who will enter the workforce will double to about 1000 a year over the next few years.

“Most will locate in metropolitan areas because they can practise wherever they choose,” Dr Birrell said. “In so doing, they will add to the over-servicing problem. They can do so because patients who are bulk-billed face no financial constraint on their consumption of GP services and GPs make the judgements about what services are needed.”

Dr Birrell said the federal government needed to rethink its policies around GP registration.

In 2011-12, the commonwealth government paid out $6.7 billion to GPs billing on Medicare and for GP incentive programs, up from $6.2bn in 2006-07.

The 2011-12 payment amounted to an average of $317,000 for each of the 21,119 full-time-equivalent GPs billing on Medicare in 2011-12.

“The emphasis of government medical manpower policy should switch to ensuring that the GPs serve where they are needed,” he argues.

He suggests the government limit the places where GPs are permitted to practise through its controls over the issuance of Medicare provider numbers.

“All that would be required to limit over-servicing in metropolitan or any other locations would be to not issue additional provider numbers in such areas until the oversupply situation ends.”

He argues against the practice of bringing overseas doctors into Australia to service areas where shortages were being experienced.

“Surveys indicate that regional communities require more medical service per person than do metropolitan communities.

“The demands on GPs’ skills are also greater in these communities because GPs are often required to provide procedural services in local hospitals as well as GP clinical services. Regional GPs also do not have the same access to specialist back-up as do GPs in metropolitan areas. It would be far preferable if the impending surge of highly trained and accredited local GP registrars served in shortage areas when they complete their training.”

He reveals the numbers being sponsored on 457 visas is surging, reaching 2663 in 2011-12.

“This reliance is now built into the business model of some corporate employers,” he says.

“One of these, Tristar, had established 40 clinics in regional Australia by 2012, all heavily reliant on the employment of IMGs on 457 visas.”

Source: The Australian – “Over-serviced: national doctor shortage ‘a myth'”

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Australia’s supposed doctor shortage is ‘a myth’

  1. There is a local trend, here in upstate NY, for GPs (called Primary Care Physicians) to leave private practice and work in the system as Hospital Doctors. They are paid by the hospital and no longer have all the paperwork and regulations that private practice demands. It is one way for them to avoid the red tape and low reimbursements of Medicare. The only saving grace is that there are just so many Hospital Doctors that can be hired.

    Posted by Waldo "Wally" Tomosky | March 2, 2013, 23:21
  2. BALONEY….If Australia’s supposed doctor shortage is ‘a myth’, I would kindly invite the P.M. and all PARROTS/PUPPETS politicians from both sites of the Spectrum,Table, or Wing/s, and let them get an appointment to the local medical center at least, in the country region, any state, or region across Australia……JERKS .

    Posted by Old Fart | March 3, 2013, 18:29

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Australia’s population could soar to 40 million by 2050 because of temporary entry migrants | Craig Hill - March 28, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 17,663 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

China flexes new nuclear sub ahead of Party Congress

China flexes new nuclear sub ahead of Party Congress

For the first time, China has released video footage of its latest Type 094A nuclear-powered ballistic missile sub (SSBN) and Type 093 nuclear attack sub (SSN), a potent show of naval might ahead of China’s 20th Communist Party Congress in October. Chinese state media featured the subs in a training video for Liaoning, China’s first […]

Coronation Of Emperor Xi and the world thereafter

Coronation Of Emperor Xi and the world thereafter

A few days ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s arrest news took social media by storm. The atmosphere was jubilant as if the whole world looked forward to Xi’s exit. The rumor turned out to be fake news; Xi’s third term looks secured. Xi Jinping is all set to snatch the historic third term in the […]

China is coming for your land

China is coming for your land

Drought has plunged water levels to the lowest in China in decades. The temperatures have also soared to record levels, and hydropower plants failed to meet the sharp rise in power demand. However, this is just a glimpse of the worst things to come. Floods, droughts, and record-breaking temperatures would have a catastrophic effect on […]

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

The Chinese military has intensified its drone incursions into the skies above Taiwan with almost daily flights of combat and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) TB-001 drone was spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the island and China’s […]

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India’s foreign ministry said on Friday that disengagement along a disputed border area with China will be completed by Sept. 12. Both countries began disengaging from the Gogra-Hot Springs border area in the western Himalayas on Thursday, over two years after clashes at the frontier strained diplomatic ties. The disengagement comes ahead of a meeting […]

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

Two electrifying moves in recent weeks have the potential to ignite electric vehicle demand in the United States. First, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, expanding federal tax rebates for EV purchases. Then California approved rules to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The Inflation Reduction Act extends the Obama-era EV tax […]

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

In the post-cold war era, India has moved from a policy of non-alignment to a policy of multi-alignment. This means that India has friendly relations with almost all-powerful and developing nations. Today India is carving out a unique path for itself. Such an approach provides prominence and exposes India to the harmful behind-curtain activities by […]

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen was once again in the headlines when President Tsai Ing-wen paid tribute this week to the soldiers and civilians who “operated in solidarity and safeguarded Taiwan” 64 years ago. On Aug. 23, 1958 mainland Chinese troops attacked Kinmen in a key battle that marked the beginning of the Second Taiwan […]

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

The father of communism, Karl Marx, once famously said — “We have no compassion, and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror”. This statement summarises how terrorism and communism go hand in hand. Maoist China alone destroyed between 44.5 to 72 million lives. During […]

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

China is attempting to establish a “new normal” across the Taiwan Strait, eroding self-ruled Taiwan’s territorial control and increasing the threat of a strike with each military sortie, officials and analysts say. Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers in the 110-mile (180-kilometer) wide stretch of water that separates Taiwan from mainland China — and the […]

%d bloggers like this: