The distribution of the primary health workforce is a significant issue in Australia's health system, and it is well known that those living in outer-metropolitan, regional, and rural areas have less access to timely and affordable primary health care and experience worse health outcomes than those in metropolitan areas.
Australians are increasingly accessing primary health care at a rate that is outstripping supply, particularly in relation to appointments with general practitioners (GP). A functioning and well-distributed primary health system can prevent more serious illnesses, reduce presentations at hospital emergency departments, and improve health outcomes for individuals and communities; however, this is failing to occur.
Successive governments have implemented a range of policies aimed to improve the distribution of the primary health workforce with limited success, leaving communities across Australia without appropriate access to primary health care.
This inquiry is examining these issues, namely; the current distribution of primary health services, the policies designed to improve access to primary health professionals, and the impacts these have on Australians living in outer-metropolitan, regional, and rural areas.