There are considerable pressures on Australia’s health workforce - as evidenced by shortages of supply in some professions, particularly (but not only) outside the major population centres, and a significant reliance on overseas trained professionals. In the future, ageing of the population will compound the impacts of other factors that will increase demand for health workforce services.
Initiatives to boost the numbers of education and training places will be an important part of the response to both current shortages and increased future demand for health workers. But there is also scope and need to increase the productivity and effectiveness of the available health workforce and to reduce its maldistribution. Addressing a range of systemic impediments will enhance the capacity of the workforce to respond in an efficient and timely manner to the challenges of the future.
Some of the commission’s proposals seek to overcome distortions and better align incentives for those using and providing health workforce services. Others seek to address the fragmentation, poor coordination, inflexibility and entrenched workplace behaviours in the current arrangements, through consolidating a number of entities and/or functions within more responsive, accountable and transparent national bodies or regimes.