Nation playing GP catch up

12 Oct 2016

Medical graduates are flocking to the specialties as years of chronic under-investment in general practice discourage many from becoming a GP.

Medical workforce figures show that although the number of practising GPs has increased by almost 15 per cent in the past decade to 28,329, over the same period the ranks of employed specialists has swelled by 42 per cent to 31,189, reinforcing calls for greater focus on general practitioner training and better support for GPs, particularly in rural and remote areas.

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said the figures showed the extent to which the Government was still playing “catch up” following chronic under-investment in GP training in the early 2000s, when the annual intake dropped as low as 450.

“There was a long period of time where we were not producing enough new, young, home-grown GPs,” Dr Gannon said. “This corresponded with an ageing of the existing GP workforce. Like many areas in medical workforce, we are playing a game of ‘catch up’.”

The proportion of GPs in the medical workforce (33 per cent) is now eclipsed by those in non-GP specialties (35 per cent), while a further 18 per cent are specialists in training, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show.

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