According to a new report out today, Dr Bob Birrell from Monash University’s Centre of Population and Urban Research has found that there is a new unexpected health crisis – Australia has too many doctors.
Dr Birrell said the main view of both the state and federal governments is that Australia has a serious shortage of both GPs and hospital doctors however; his research has found that this is not the case.
The report shows that the oversupply is directly related to the number of international medical graduates (IMGs) immigrating to Australia to fill ‘vacancies’ in the non-metropolitan GP and hospital medical officers workforce.
The success of this program has resulted in most non-metropolitan areas of Australia having a lower patient/doctor ratio than authorities consider as the benchmark to provide an adequate level of service.
“The research findings show that we are actually awash with doctors wishing to become GP’s,” Dr Birrell said.
“Yes, there was a shortage in the early 2000’s, however the recruitment of IMGs and appropriately trained foreign GPs entering the country on skilled migration visas, along with the increase in graduates from Australian universities has seen the situation turned around.”
“There is urgent need for a new review of the GP workforce situation,” Dr Birrell said.
“Given the large numbers of IMGs already in Australia, it is vital the authorities do not allow the numbers to increase through additional migration.
“The government has to assess what is needed in these ‘areas of need’, however it should be determined by what is an appropriate level of service rather than a trying to provide the same ration of population to doctors as exists in metropolitan areas.
“Until this is done, this new health crisis will continue,” Dr Birrell said.