HEALTH WORKFORCE: LONG TERM APPROACH NEEDED

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) welcomes moves by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) to maintain a focus on addressing strategic health workforce issues, given the impending closure of Health Workforce Australia (HWA). While the AHMAC discussion to date has been in private sessions, the proposed September discussion should include a broader range of stakeholders including health professions, service providers, educators and consumers.

“Ongoing analysis of workforce supply and demand is critical to meeting the future needs of the Australian population, particularly with changing demand patterns arising from the growth in chronic disease and the ageing of the population,” says Alison Verhoeven, AHHA Chief Executive. 

“It is critical that discussions about workforce issues go beyond consideration of the overall demand and supply issues and focus on the disparities that exist in terms of availability and access to health services. Some geographic areas of Australia and some population groups continue to have difficulty accessing appropriate care in a timely manner. A long-term approach is needed to address these inequities.”

Clinical placement programs managed by HWA have sought to increase student placements in regional and rural areas to improve access and encourage new graduates to practise in these locations.  Relocation subsidies and access to professional development opportunities are other important strategies that require ongoing evaluation and support.”

“The Australian Dental Association has expressed its concern about the Australian Workplace and Productivity Agency decision to keep dentists on the Skilled Occupation List and raised concerns about an oversupply of practitioners.  The AHHA strongly supports moves to self-sufficiency in the health workforce and reduced reliance on overseas trained practitioners.  However with recruitment and retention of workforce a major barrier to access, many regional and rural areas currently remain dependent on overseas trained practitioners to maintain service levels.”

“Responding to changing demand patterns and addressing rural and remote workforce issues must be a focus of the AHMAC-led discussions.  Broad engagement with the health sector must not be overlooked,” says Alison Verhoeven.

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

Media inquiries:

 

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association 0403 282 501