The Alliance continues to monitor rural and remote health workforce developments.
It has long pushed for improvements to the classification system for remoteness which is used in the administration of general practice workforce incentives. The Assistant Minister for Health recently announced changes that will see these incentives more closely aligned with the size of communities and so with workforce shortages. The Alliance will provide further details of these changes as they come to light.
A recent report, Agenda for change from the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council identifies some of the particular challenges - and opportunities - for rural areas. Some suggestions from the Alliance submission to the Environmental Scan 2014 are included in the Health Industry Skills Council's report as ways to help meet workforce development needs.
The Alliance has a Fact Sheet on doctor numbers in rural Australia. Despite the great significance of the matters, the total number of doctors in Australia and their distribution are still subject to much uncertainty. The situation is similarly uncertain for nurses and appalling for allied health professionals. The Alliance's Twenty steps to equal health by 2020 brings together our position on how to develop and strengthen the whole of our rural health workforce through a lifetime approach.
The Alliance's Opinion Piece Better access to GPs and primary care: who do you trust? responded to the report from the Grattan Institute, Access all areas, on proposals relating to GP shortages in rural Australia.
The Alliance's ongoing interest in better access to health care for rural people includes consideration of key workforce reviews and recommendations. The Senate Report of 2012 The factors affecting the supply of health services and medical professionals in rural areas was followed by the Mason review conducted by the previous government. The outcome of recommended improvements on the ASGC-RA classifications for health workforce incentives identified in both reports is yet to be announced.
The Alliance has also contributed to the work of Health Workforce Australia on many fronts including the Rural and Remote Health Workforce Innovation and Reform Strategy.
This Strategy and the Health Workforce Australia series on Health Workforce 2025 – Doctors, Nurses and Midwives (HW2025) have become key rural health documents. No health workforce is complete without its compliment of allied health workers. For the first time, AIHW (with Health Workforce Australia) has developed a statistical description of all of Australia's registered allied health professionals. This is an invaluable start to a better understanding of the allied health workforce in rural and remote Australia.