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More doctors opting for specialist roles

A ten-year snapshot of medical workforce: doctors more specialised - Featured Image

The number of medical practitioners opting for specialist roles over general practice has spiked in the last decade.

The supply of specialists-in-training has more than doubled from 7,269 to 15,336 in the past ten years – that’s a jump from 43.4 to 74.8 specialists-in-training per 100,000 people – according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and welfare (AIHW).

The Medical practitioner workforce 2015 data shows general practitioner numbers have not had the same upward trend, remaining comparatively stagnant with 109 GPs per 100,000 people in 2008 to 114 in 2015.

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AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster said that despite the slower increase in GP numbers, the supply had stayed abreast of Australia’s growing population.

Assistant minister for Rural Health Dr David Gillespie said the sharp increase in the supply of specialists wasn’t reflected with better access to their services in remote communities.

“Many people in rural and regional communities must still travel for long distances and experience lengthy delays in order to see a specialist for diagnosis or treatment. This must change,” he said.

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Dr Gillespie, a former rural physician, said the data did reflect improved availability of general practitioners for Australians living in regional and remote areas.

“The overall number of medical practitioners is continuing to increase and access to GPs in regional areas is now comparable to access in metropolitan areas,” he said.

The AIHW cautioned, however, that the remote area figures could be skewed based on the different delivery models and higher levels of demand in some regions.”

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