The Hon Nicola Roxon MP
Minister for Health and Ageing
Canberra ACT 2600
In accordance with the requirements of subsection 3GC(4) of the Health Insurance Act 1973, I am pleased to submit to you the fourteenth report of the Medical Training Review Panel.
Significant efforts have been made in last two years to improve the coverage and quality of the data contained in the report and it is now a more accurate and complete reference on the supply of the medical workforce in Australia. The report covers the three levels of medical training in Australia, providing data on all trainees in undergraduate, postgraduate and vocational training programs in the last year, 2010. It also provides information on graduates and college fellows for the previous year, 2009. To provide a more complete picture of the supply of medical practitioners, detailed information on doctors who have been trained overseas, who applied to and those who have been granted visas to work in Australia, is also included.
In summary, this report highlights the continued substantial increases in medical training that have occurred, particularly since 2006, and how the numbers of medical practitioners and specialists will continue to grow in the next few years. This boost to the health workforce is key to addressing shortages in many parts of Australia, however, presents signifi cant challenges for all involved in medical education and training.
Over the last year there has been a renewed focus on the health workforce, prompted by the major package of reforms and funding announced by the Council of Australian Governments in 2009. Signifi cant funding was allocated for more training, as well as for a number of new workforce initiatives. In particular, in 2010 two new national agencies were established.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is now responsible for the registration of health professionals, requiring medical practitioners to register only once through a national medical board rather than, as previously, in each state and territory in which they wished to work. All medical students will also be registered.
Health Workforce Australia was also established in 2010 to facilitate more effective and integrated clinical training of health professionals, provide effective and accurate information and advice to guide health workforce policy and planning, and promote, support and evaluate health workforce reform. This is to be undertaken through a number of major programs and through the development of policy, including funding for additional clinical training places and a national training plan covering both medicine and nursing.
The Panel is constituted of representatives of the key stakeholders in medical workforce training, with some 32 members in all. Each brings different insights into the way medical education and training is being undertaken currently. Together the group provides an important forum for discussion of the challenges of providing a medical workforce that can meet Australia’s needs into the future.
The Panel looks forward to beginning work on its next report, as well as continuing its other activity over the coming year. It also recognises the importance of work to be progressed by Health Workforce Australia and welcomes the opportunity to not only provide the data, but also input more broadly to a number of key projects that have already been identified.
Medical Training Review Panel
16 March 2011