Health Workforce 2025 - Doctors, Nurses and Midwives

Overview

Health Workforce 2025 – Doctors, Nurses and Midwives (HW2025) provides the first, long-term, national workforce projections for doctors, nurses and midwives.

It contains detailed modelling on workforce supply, demand, training and projects the numbers required between 2012 and 2025 for professional entry students and postgraduate and specialist training.

HW2025 shows the need for action in areas such as training, geographic distribution of professionals, retention of staff, and immigration if Australia is to meet the future demand for healthcare. Current policy settings cannot meet this need.

Volumes 1 and 2 of the report were released by Australia’s Health Ministers in April 2012.

The third volume in this set of HW2025 – Medical Specialists, was released on 9 November 2012.

Latest news

The next editions focusing on doctors and nurses are currently being developed and will be published in 2014.

Background 

Recognising the importance of national planning for a sustainable health workforce, the Standing Council on Health, comprising Australia’s Health Ministers, in November 2010 commissioned Health Workforce Australia (HWA) to develop the HW2025 report. 

In April 2012, HWA published the first two volumes: 

  • HW2025 Volume 1presents the findings of a supply and demand analysis of doctors, nurses and midwives in Australia.
  • HW2025 Volume 2 presents detailed workforce supply and demand projections for registered and enrolled nurses by area of practice, as well as projections by state and territory for doctors and nurses.

Drawing on national datasets, HW2025 models various policy options, including productivity, workforce retention, higher education and training, health service demand, and supply of professionals including self-sufficiency, graduate numbers, and immigration.

Key findings of the study are:

  • There has been growth in the total number of medical practitioners but there is a maldistribution across Australia.
  • By 2016, there will be insufficient specialist training places for medical graduates.
  • The short-term supply of nurses is stable, but by 2025 there will be a significant shortfall.
  • For nursing, areas such as mental health and aged care are at particular risk of shortages.
  • There are insufficient employment opportunities for newly graduating nurses.
  • Australia’s current health professional workforce is highly dependent on immigration for doctors and nurses.

HW2025 Volume 3 examines individual medical specialties in Australia and the key findings are:

  • The number of medical specialists is increasing, but the workforce is not evenly distributed.
  • There are not enough general practitioners and some other medical specialists in regional and rural Australia.
  • Some medical specialties are more popular than others from a career perspective.
  • A growing trend towards specialisation and sub-specialisation means Australia does not have enough generalists.  

Key issues identified in that study are:

  • Some specialties are highly reliant on international medical graduates, particularly general practice, psychiatry and obstetrics/gynaecology.
  • The medical training pathway is poorly coordinated, contributing to:
    • Uneven distribution of numbers between specialties.
    • Increasing the length of time to produce specialists.
    • Lost opportunities to address issues around geographic distribution and promoting a better balance between generalist, specialist and sub-specialist training.
    • Uncertainty for medical graduates in knowing which specialty to choose for their career pathway.
    • Training too many specialists in fields that may not match community needs.