The medical workforce is continuing to grow, with improved supply across all regions of Australia, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Medical workforce 2011, provides information on the demographic and employment characteristics of medical practitioners who were registered in Australia in 2011. In 2011, there were 87,790 medical practitioners registered in Australia, and about 85% of them responded to the workforce survey.
'Between 2007 and 2011 the number of medical practitioners employed in medicine increased by just over 17% from 67,208 to 78,833,' said AIHW spokesperson Teresa Dickinson.
The overall supply of clinicians across all states and territories increased 11.4% between 2007 and 2011, from 323 full-time equivalents per 100,000 people in 2007 to 360 in 2011.
'Between 2007 and 2011, there was also a rise in the supply of employed medical practitioners in all regional areas, including Major cities up by 60 FTE, Inner regional areas up by 60 FTE, Outer regional areas up by 69 FTE and Remote/Very remote areas up by 45 FTE.'
About 94% (73,980) of employed medical practitioners were working as clinicians, of whom 34% were general practitioners, 33% specialists, 17% specialists-in-training, and 13% hospital non-specialists. Of those employed as non-clinicians (6% of all employed medical practitioners), more than half were researchers or administrators.
Physician was the largest main speciality of practice among both clinician specialists and total specialists (5,157 and 5,689 respectively). The second-largest main speciality for clinician specialists and specialists (3,951 and 4,125 respectively) was surgery.
'Women are increasingly represented in the medical practitioner workforce, up from 34% in 2007 to 38% in 2011. Among clinicians, women accounted for 48% of hospital non-specialists compared to 26% of specialists,' Ms Dickinson said.
The average age of medical practitioners has fallen slightly from 2007 to 2011, from 45.9 to 45.5 years.
The average weekly hours worked by employed medical practitioners remained stable between 2007 and 2011. In 2011, male medical practitioners worked an average of 45.9 hours per week, while female medical practitioners worked an average of 38.7 hours per week.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.