The Australian Medical Association is calling on the Council of Australian Governments to urgently commission a ‘National Medical Workforce Strategy’ to address significant workforce challenges and implement long-term workforce planning to better meet Australia’s future health care needs.

The call is based on one of the key recommendations of the outcomes report, released today, of the AMA Medical Workforce and Training Summit, which was held in March this year.

The summit brought together more than 80 interested parties to discuss priority medical workforce challenges including the maldistribution of the medical workforce, workforce shortages in some specialty areas, and the lack of prevocational and specialist training places for medical graduates once they have left medical school.

The president of the AMA, Dr Michael Gannon, said the summit was all about providing solutions to the current and emerging threats to producing a medical workforce with the right skills in the right numbers to serve Australia’s growing population, including the needs of rural and regional Australia.

Dr Gannon said the comprehensive report from the summit identifies a range of potential policy priority areas that were strongly supported by delegates from across the spectrum of medical workforce and medical training.

The summit highlighted a number of other key areas for action including:

  • the need to better support generalism;
  • a focus on matching training with community need;
  • more opportunities for specialist training in rural areas;
  • the development of a strong rural training pathway;
  • supporting careers in undersupplied specialties; and
  • the establishment of the National Rural Generalist Pathway.

 Medical students back AMA’s call

Medical students have backed the AMA’s call on the Council of Australian Governments to urgently commission a National Medical Workforce Strategy

The Australian Medical Students’ Association, the representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students, has joined the AMA in calling for a National Strategy to address significant healthcare workforce challenges and implement long-term workforce planning for Australia’s future health needs.

AMSA estimates by 2030 there are projected to be 1000 more applicants than available advanced vocational training positions for graduates in medicine to complete an internship in an accredited hospital before they can be registered

It points out that while medical student numbers have more than doubled since 2006, post-graduate training positions in hospitals have not increased proportionally.

Also, Australia has one of the highest ratios of medical schools per capita in the developed world, with 22 schools including Macquarie Medical School which opened this year and Curtin University which opened in 2017.