Call for action in response to projected GP shortage

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A new report from Deloitte Access Economics says Australia is heading for a major shortage of General Practitioners by 2030.

The ‘General Practitioner Workforce Report 2019’, commissioned by Cornerstone Health, identified a projected shortfall of 9,298 full-time GPs (24.7 per cent of the GP workforce) by 2030.

It says the issue will be most extreme in urban areas with a shortfall of 7,535 full-time GPs (31.7 per cent) by 2030.

The report says there will be a 37.5 per cent increase in the demand for GP services between 2019 and 2030 (139.8 million increasing to 192.1 million).

According to report author and Deloitte Access Economics partner, Lynne Pezzullo, one of the main factors behind the shortfall is the regulatory constraint that limits the number of overseas trained doctors permitted to work in urban areas under the Stronger Rural Health Strategy (SRHS).

“Our research found 68.1% of GP services are currently demanded in urban areas however only 62.4% of GPs are in those areas. This will only get worse by 2030 as populations in those areas increase,” said Pezzullo.

Cornerstone Health, a primary healthcare provider, said it is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit GPs in urban areas.

CEO and Founder Henry Bateman said the government should not wait until 2030 to address the issue.

“There needs to be the right policy settings and incentives in place to encourage doctors to practice in areas of unmet need."

He continued, “It is critical that regulation governing the recruitment of GPs is considering the fast-growing populations of outer metropolitan areas, as well as rural and regional Australia. A sensible first step would be to modify the Health Workforce Locator or to reinstate the District of Workforce maps which ensured that overseas trained doctors were able to practice where they were needed most.” 

The report also found the shortage is being compounded by a lack of Australian trained graduates.