Australia is heading for an acute doctor shortage in the coming decade, especially of full-time GPs. This trend emerges as fewer medical graduates enter the market and demand for health services rises, new research from Deloitte Access Economics shows.

By 2030, researchers project a shortfall of 9,298 full-time GPs – 24.7% of the GP workforce – according a new report released. Recent planning has failed to take into account the increasing trend for GP’s to work part-time and the growing demand for GP’s in subspecialties such as skin and cosmetic medicine.

The GP deficit is set to be most extreme in urban areas, with a shortfall of 7,535 full-time GPs (31.7%) by 2030, while regional areas can expect a deficit of 1,763 (12%).

The report recommends removing the limit on overseas-trained doctors working in urban areas to quickly boost labour supply. Recent changes to GP recruitment have made it harder for overseas trained doctors to work in Australia. Changes to District of Workforce Shortage has left many practices completely unable to find fully qualified and unrestricted GP’s. In addition tightened visa restrictions have increased the cost burden for practices who have no choice but to recruit a GP from overseas.

Implementation of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy (SHRS), to restrict overseas-trained doctors practising in urban areas will exacerbate the underlying supply shortfall in these areas, it says.

Over the medium-to-long term, the report suggests increasing registrar enrolments, particularly in urban areas, “will assist with delivering a better geographical alignment of the GP workforce to meet demand”. This may serve to curb the negative effects of the doctor shortage Australia is likely to experience in the next decade.

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