The allied health workforce, which makes up about 25% of the health workforce, is growing, according to new information released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
'Nearly 154,000 allied health practitioners were registered in 2013, compared to just over 146,000 in 2012,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster.
There are 16 allied health professions registered through the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, including psychologists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists, dental therapists, oral health therapists, occupational therapists, medical radiation practitioners, chiropractors, optometrists, Chinese medicine practitioners, podiatrists, osteopaths and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.
Psychologists made up the largest proportion of registered allied health practitioners (19.8%), followed by pharmacists (18.2%), physiotherapists (16.6%) and dentists (10.1%).
'The field of physiotherapy grew the most, with a full-time equivalent (FTE) rate of 83.3 employed physiotherapists per 100,000 people, up from 78.3 in 2011,' Dr Webster said.
Increases in supply were seen across most fields, including pharmacists (90.1 FTE per 100,000 people up from 87.1 in 2011) psychologists (86.2 FTE, up from 84.2 in 2011), and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners (1.3 FTE, up from 1.1 in 2012).
Average hours worked per week ranged from 29 hours for dental hygienists and dental therapists to 41 hours for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.
Declines were seen in the dental therapist (3.2 FTE, down from 3.8 in 2012), dental prosthetist (5.0 FTE, down from 5.4 in 2012), and Chinese medicine practitioner (12.8 FTE, down from 13.2 in 2012) workforces.
The information, published online at http://www.aihw.gov.au/health-workforce/, details the demographic and employment characteristics of Australia's allied health workforce.
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.