National Medical Workforce Strategy

A National Medical Workforce Strategy (the Strategy) is being developed to guide long-term collaborative medical workforce planning across Australia.

Page last updated: 03 April 2020

The Department is currently drafting material for the Strategy, and will work with the Medical Workforce Reform Advisory Committee and the Strategy Steering Committee to have the final Strategy endorsed by Health Ministers in early 2021. This timeline may change slightly in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite major consultation now being complete, the Department is continuing discussions with stakeholders and welcomes additional feedback. The team working to develop the Strategy can be contacted at healthworkforcestrategy@health.gov.au

The Strategy is being developed to:

  • Guide medical workforce planning activities at all levels of government.
  • Match the supply of medical specialists to the predicted medical service needs of the community.
  • Identify achievable, practical actions to build a sustainable, highly-trained medical workforce.

The National Medical Workforce Strategy Fact Sheet provides an overview of the Strategy’s broad objectives.

PDF version: National Medical Workforce Strategy Fact Sheet (PDF 98 KB)
Word version: National Medical Workforce Strategy Fact Sheet (Word 164 KB)

Strategy development

The Commonwealth Department of Health is developing the Strategy in collaboration with the Medical Workforce Reform Advisory Committee (MWRAC). MWRAC members include the states and territories, specialist medical colleges, and medical professional associations. MWRAC provides a national perspective to supporting medical practitioners and address workforce shortages.

On 8 March 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council endorsed development of the Strategy.

Scoping Framework

The first phase of the Strategy has seen the development of a Scoping Framework that focuses on identifying and understanding medical workforce issues that will benefit from a national approach to medical workforce planning. Consultations were held with the states and territories and a cross-section of key medical professional organisations and doctors to develop the Scoping Framework.

The Scoping Framework has identified several priority areas that the National Medical Workforce Strategy will focus on, including:

  • Improving coordination in medical workforce planning through joint decision-making and a common approach to collecting and sharing data.
  • Reducing geographic maldistribution to achieve equitable access to care for all.
  • Addressing the growing over and under supply of doctors in some specialties.
  • Ensuring doctor work-readiness, giving young doctors more exposure in the right settings.

PDF version: National Medical Workforce Strategy Scoping Framework (PDF 1722 KB)
Word version: National Medical Workforce Strategy Scoping Framework (Word 3375 KB)

Consultation

Work to develop the Strategy commenced in mid-2019, including broad consultation to identify key strategic actions.

Additional consultations took place between late 2019 and early 2020 to gather stakeholder feedback on strategic actions.

The last scheduled round of stakeholder consultation for the National Medical Workforce Strategy was completed in February and March 2020. This round of consultation sought stakeholder feedback on potential solutions to priority workforce issues. 11 stakeholder forums were held, with one in each state and territory, in a mix of metropolitan, outer metropolitan, regional and rural locations.

The Department sought feedback from a range of stakeholders and a variety of perspectives were represented, with attendees comprising a mix of senior and junior clinicians from hospitals and community based care, medical specialist college representatives, jurisdictional representatives involved in medical workforce planning, primary health networks, student representatives, consumers and academics.

The Department also held two consultation webinars, responding to questions from online viewers. The first webinar, held on 17 February 2020, was viewed live by over 560 people, with 68 questions submitted during the event. Prof Jenny May from the National Rural Health Alliance joined the panel with Principal Medical Advisor on the NMWS, Dr Susan Wearne, and Kathryn Yuile from the Department’s Health Workforce Division. A second webinar focusing on issues effecting junior doctors was hosted on 5 March 2020. AMA Council of Doctors in Training Chair Dr Tessa Kennedy joined Susan and Kathryn, with 435 live viewers tuned in, submitting 24 questions to the panel. Recordings of the consultation webinars are available on the following pages:

Consultation webinar – 17 February 2020
Consultation webinar – 5 March 2020

An online survey was available through the Department’s Consultation Hub between 17 February and 31 March 2020. Respondents were asked to rank solutions to help the Department understand which were seen as the highest priority, 156 responses were received through this process.

Further information

As planning for the next stage of developing the Strategy is finalised, more information will be available on this webpage about next steps. Please contact healthworkforcestrategy@health.gov.au for more information.