AMA says devil will be in the detail of new medical workforce strategy

The National Medical Workforce Strategy is the first overarching strategy to be released since the National Health Workforce Strategic Framework 14 years ago.

The AMA is broadly supportive of the priority areas outlined in the National Medical Workforce Strategy 2021–2031(NMWS), released by the Department of Health last month, however notes the devil will be in the detail of the implementation.

Several areas have been highlighted for further attention and oversight by the AMA including but not limited to:

  • addressing areas of geographic and generalist undersupply;
  • implementing viable rural training pathways and the effectiveness of existing rural workforce programs;
  • the development and implementation of a hospital registrar framework;
  • ensuring quality oversight and evaluation of digital health models of care and use of digital health in training and education;
  • securing reforms to GP training and employment arrangements that build a sustainable general practice workforce;
  • ensuring the cross-cutting themes included in Priority 5 - the flexibility and responsiveness of the medical workforce, strengthening medical leadership and culture, and improving doctor wellbeing, are considered when implementing other Strategic Priorities, such as reforming training pathways;
  • ensuring the two separate priorities of Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce and improving the healthcare outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are attended to.

Following lobbying from the AMA, COAG Health Ministers in 2019 agreed to fund, develop, and implement a new strategy for a national highly trained and sustainable medical workforce to meet Australia’s future healthcare.

The AMA has contributed to the development of this Strategy over the past two years through its representation on the Medical Workforce Reform Advisory Committee and on the NMWS Steering Committee.  

The AMA welcomes the new strategy on the basis it will:

  • allow the Commonwealth and States and Territories to cooperate more closely in planning and coordinating our future medical workforce, and  
  • address the many workforce challenges facing Australia’s medical professionals including the maldistribution of the medical workforce, workforce shortages in some specialty areas, and the lack of prevocational and specialist training places for medical graduates once they have left medical school.

The Strategy was a key recommendation from the 2018 AMA Medical Workforce and Training Summit.

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