$1 Billion proposal to secure Australia’s healthcare workforce needs


Australia’s healthcare system is facing significant challenges due to shortages and maldistribution of the healthcare workforce, leading to delayed care for many Australians. In response, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling for the establishment of an independent National Health Workforce Planning Agency to address these critical issues.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson emphasised the urgent need to build a sustainable healthcare workforce to future-proof Australia’s healthcare system. He highlighted the ongoing challenges in accessing healthcare across various regions due to workforce shortages, resulting in prolonged wait times for appointments and delayed diagnoses, ultimately leading to substandard patient outcomes.

“We know right now there are many regions across Australia where access to healthcare remains a challenge due to the maldistribution and shortages of healthcare professionals,” Professor Robson said.

Since the abolition of Health Workforce Australia in 2014, healthcare workforce planning in Australia has stagnated, with no significant modelling or planning reports since 2017, and the results of this neglect are becoming more apparent every day, Professor Robson said. The AMA’s pre-budget submission proposes a $1 billion commitment to establish a National Health Workforce Planning Agency, aligning with the recommendations of the 2021–2031 National Medical Workforce Strategy.

The proposed agency would be tasked with ensuring that the healthcare workforce meets the current and future needs of the population through comprehensive planning, coordination and policy advice. It would consider various factors such as population demographics, healthcare trends, technological advancements, and disease dynamics to make informed decisions about workforce requirements.

According to Professor Robson, the establishment of a National Health Workforce Planning Agency is crucial to ensure that Australia has a well-equipped healthcare workforce in the right locations to meet the evolving healthcare demands of the population. He emphasised the importance of evidence-based policy to minimise wastage while efficiently adapting to changing healthcare needs, ultimately ensuring equitable access to high-quality healthcare for all Australians.

“If governments want to get serious about prioritising the health of all Australians — no matter where they live — then a workforce planning agency makes absolute sense.”

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