Updated Position Statement on Medical Workforce and Training

4 Apr 2019

The AMA has updated the position statement on Medical Workforce and Training. The updated position statement addresses the two most important issues affecting the sustainability of the medical workforce: capacity and distribution.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said that the health of communities relies upon care from a highly-skilled, well-trained medical workforce and a strong comprehensive primary health care sector.

“Over the past decade, the number of doctors in Australia has increased significantly, driven by a considerable rise in the number of medical schools and medical graduates,” Dr Bartone said 

“But record growth in medical graduate numbers to well above the OECD average has raised concerns about a potential medical workforce oversupply in the years ahead.

“Delivering a medical workforce to meet future community requirements for health care requires a change in thinking.

“The focus of medical workforce policy and planning must shift from increasing medical school places towards giving medical students and postgraduate doctors more opportunities to train in rural areas.

“We also need targeted increases in postgraduate training capacity in the geographic areas and specialties where they are needed.

“And improving the distribution of the medical workforce is a priority.

“A well-distributed workforce, geographically and by specialty, is essential to meet the long-term healthcare needs of communities – where undersupply impedes appropriate access, and oversupply creates costly inefficiency.

“Medical workforce policy and planning must ensure there are enough doctors with the skills and commitment to provide care where it is needed most, particularly in underserved and rural and remote communities.

“This is an issue not only for general practice, but across all medical disciplines.”

This Position Statement will inform AMA advocacy on the key tenets of a National Medical Workforce Strategy to be developed by the National Medical Training Advisory Network.

The number of doctors in Australia is above the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average at 3.5 per 1000 population compared with 2.8 per 1000 in the UK and 2.6 per 1000 population in the USA.

Read the AMA Position Statement on Medical Workforce and Training 2019.