Specialist sector growth outstrips GPs

And those working solely in private practice are the happiest of all

The specialist sector is surging, with growth now sitting at five times that of GPs, according to a report that sets out the current state of the health sector in Australia.

While total expenditure grew by 4 per cent in real terms between 2014/15 and 2015/16 to $21.2 billion, the authors say a lack of routine data collection on health outcomes means it is difficult to tell if the sector is providing better value for money.

That said, specialists are increasingly bulk-billing and providing more services to patients, while their median hourly earnings are dropping, according to the report written by the University of Melbourne and funded by ANZ and the Melbourne Institute.

The report shows that specialists' prices (average fee charged per service, including Medicare rebate plus out-of-pocket payment) fell in real terms by 0.15 per cent in the 10 years preceding 2015/16.

Their median