Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

2.5 Workforce shortages in context

Page last updated: April 2008

Analysing the distribution of the current workforce is, however, not sufficient to identify where there are workforce shortages that adversely affect access to health care and health care outcomes. Determining where there are workforce shortages also relies upon determinations of what is adequate supply. There is not a body of work currently available for Australia that describes the population health care status and needs in terms of the numbers, proportions and mix of health professionals required to meet those needs. Current population profiles and changes over time are also necessary to consider when making determinations of whether there is an adequate workforce supply to a given area.

Identifying shortages either in workforce supply or workforce distribution is not straightforward, not only because of a dearth of good data and the need to pull together information at the Commonwealth level and from states and territories, but especially so because of the difficulty of establishing the underlying health care demand.

(Productivity Commission report, Australia's Health Workforce)