Media release

Make national labour force survey compulsory

Medical practitioners should be required to participate in a new national medical labour force survey as part of their registration obligations, to assist workforce planning, according to an article published in this year’s General Practice edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.

Dr Deborah Askew, Senior Research Fellow in General Practice at the University of Queensland, and her co-authors argue that the data from the current workforce surveys administered by state and territory medical boards are neither timely nor comprehensive.

Dr Askew said the establishment of a new national medical registration scheme and a National Minimum Data Set Project in 2010 should be used to move medical workforce data collection into the 21st century.

“Workforce planning aims to ensure an adequate supply of doctors with the appropriate skills to meet the current and projected future medical care needs of the population,” Dr Askew said.

“This requires accurate information about the current medical workforce.

“Making the workforce survey a compulsory component of registration would enable development of a comprehensive national dataset.

“The introduction of web-based electronic data capture for both medical registration and workforce data would facilitate timely analysis and reporting.”

Dr Askew said national labour force data could be used to monitor trends such as the impact of the feminisation of the general practice workforce on work patterns and the demands placed on GPs who teach medical students and doctors-in-training.

In the same issue of the Medical Journal of Australia, the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute outlines recommendations from a Workforce Roundtable.

Recommendations highlighted by Associate Professor Kirsty Douglas and her co-authors included: Simplifying the Medicare Benefits Schedule; effectively funding undergraduate and prevocational medical and nursing education and training in primary health care; developing the career structure and training pathways for GPs and primary health care nurses.

GP Week runs from 20 – 26 July.

The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.

The statements or opinions that are expressed in the MJA  reflect the views of the authors and do not represent the official policy of the AMA unless that is so stated.

Dr Deborah Askew 0402 131 162
Ms Jan King 07 3365 1120
University Queensland Marketing & Communication
Associate Professor Kirsty Douglas 0409 075 023 / 02 612 50766

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