General practice growth stunted: report

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Medical Workforce 2011, said while the overall number of medical practitioners increased by 17.3% from 2007 to 2011, GP numbers grew by only 3.9% over that time — or less than 1% per year.

The number of clinicians grew 18.1%, including a 29.2% rise in hospital non-specialists, a 12.8% increase in specialists and a 41.1% upswing in specialists in training.

The report also confirmed that GPs were older on average than the overall medical profession, with 36.6% of GPs aged over 55 compared to 24.6% for the rest of the profession.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said about 30% of the medical workforce were trained as GPs compared to around half 20 years ago and questioned whether Australia should accept its current dependence on imported doctors.

“Is 30–35% of the class going into primary health care appropriate when this government and future governments are