News Roundup: Doctors desperately needed across Australia

News Roundup: Doctors desperately needed across Australia

Australia is is facing a shortage of health professionals. The Rural Doctors Association of Australia estimates that there is a shortfall of 1800 doctors in rural communities today. Much like the wider population, the medical workforce is ageing. One third of Australian GPs are over 55 and over 38% of nurses and midwives are over 50 years of age.

Health Workforce Australia (HWA), the Commonwealth authority established to advise State and Federal health ministers, has predicted that by 2025 Australia will be short 2700 doctors. This is assuming we continue our current rate of importing overseas doctors and that State and Federal Governments succeed in finding intern places for the 182 medical school graduates who are currently unable to continue their training in Australia.

Here are just some of the recent stories about Doctor shortages across metropolitan and rural Australia

Bulahdelah, NSW: Bulahdelah bids to woo GP to town (21/10/2012)

Forget the town with no beer – Bulahdelah, population 1500, is the the town without a doctor. For 13 months the community has tried everything to attract a medico – even hanging a giant advertising banner on the freeway.

The doctor’s house has been renovated, the hospital has had a $100,000 upgrade and Bulahdelah’s best cooks are now offering weekly home-made treats in the latest bid to ease the crisis.

Read more at the Herald Sun

Moree, NSW: New GPs deserting the bush (14/10/2012)

RURAL health care is at crisis point, with ageing “baby boomer” GPs retiring in growing numbers and leaving a lack of suitable replacements.

The average age of the state’s fully-trained rural doctors is 55, with 70 per cent due to retire in the next decade, health figures show.

Many bush hospitals in NSW are struggling to fill positions, with one in six vacant, leaving communities reliant on expensive locums.

Read more at the Herald Sun

Maryborough, QLD: GP crisis reflected in numbers (8/10/2012)

MARYBOROUGH’S shortage of GPs has reached crisis proportions with people in large areas of its electorate now struggling with less doctor access than the national average.

The problem has deteriorated to such extremes the heritage city and some of its outlying towns are now declared district of workforce shortages (DWS).

Read more at the Fraser Coast Chronicle

WA: Patients wait longer at WA hospitals (6/10/2012)

“It’s a damning picture of how hospitals are performing. These statistics point to a hospital system under extreme pressure.

“The Government has been saying how well hospitals are performing, but this report paints a very different picture.”

Dr Snowball also blamed the delays on WA’s severe shortage of general practitioners, which resulted in the highest percentage of preventable presentations at emergency departments.

Read more in the Herald Sun

Bendigo, VIC: No doctors in the house (27/6/2012)

When school teacher Emily Lloyd moved from Melbourne to Bendigo in 2005, she thought people were joking when they said she would need a personal reference to get in to see a general practitioner in the area. She soon found out they weren’t. Lloyd, 33, fell ill with a serious virus and rang five clinics in Bendigo to try to see a doctor. Each time, she was told they weren’t seeing new patients and to try elsewhere. Lloyd became progressively sicker and ended up in hospital.

After this, whenever she had a serious medical problem she would first call a family friend who was also a GP, and on his advice would travel the 150 kilometres to Melbourne to see her family doctor. It took a further two years before she was accepted into a clinic in Bendigo, and this only came through contacts.

Read more at The Age

The Doctor shortage is not a new problem, governments have known it was coming for many years

Keysborough, VIC: Doctor shortage looms as GPs head for retirement (17/1/2007)

Australia could face a chronic doctor shortage within five years as a “silver tsunami”of GPs heads towards retirement, a study released today shows.

Nearly 40 per cent of GPs are aged 55 or more — in 1999-2000 the figure was 27 per cent. A further 34 per cent are aged between 45 and 54.

Doctors and opposition politicians called on the Federal Government to take urgent action.

Read more at The Age

Cunnamulla, QLD: Doctor shortage situation becoming worse (22/5/2007)

In Queensland the doctor shortage facing one rural community has become so bad that the local pharmacist says she’s taken to giving out drugs without a prescription.

The town of Cunnamulla in the state’s southwest had been without a doctor for almost two years.

And the Rural Doctors Association says the problem is not uncommon.

It’s calling on governments to be more realistic about the incentives to deal with the shortage of around 900 doctors throughout rural Australia.

Read the transcript at the ABC’s World Today

Still don’t believe us? Here are more reports of Doctor shortages across Australia

Doctor Shortage Critical
Liz MacIntyre – 01/08/2012 – The Northwest Star

Doctor Shortage
Joanne Fosdike – 20/09/2012 – The Murray Valley Standard

Stop Blaming Doctors for the Health System
“Dr Graham” – 04/12/2008 – Crikey

No jobs so medical graduates face a life serving doughnuts
Benjamin Veness – 05/10/2012 – Crikey

MP Warns of Critical Regional Doctor Shortage
ABC – 30/10/2012

Foreign doctors slated in report
Kate Hagan – 15/10/2012 – St. George and Sutherland Shire Leader

Pregnant Women Turned Away
Julia Medew – 23/10/2012 – St. George and Sutherland Shire Leader

Sydney’s health divide: pay GPs to go west
Rachel Browne – 19/08/2012 –

Regional doctor shortages: case studies
20/08/2012 – The Border Mail

Doctor scarcity costs state $86m as expensive locums flown in to fill the gaps
Janelle Miles – 01/09/2010 –

Shortage of intern places hits crisis point
Sarah Colyer – 05/06/2012 – Australian Doctor

Critical doctor shortage shuts down Shellharbour, Bulli EDs
Jodie Minus and Angela Thompson – 27/07/2009 – Illawarra Mercury

Overseas doctors cash in on rural shortage
Bronwyn Herbert – ABC the 7:30 Report – 07/07/2010

System in poor health: junior doctors left without work in training bungle
Andrew Crook – 11/10/2012 – Crikey

Regional/Rural Workforce Initiatives – 2012
Australian Medical Association – 11/04/2012

Protest in scrubs: med students to stage Sydney demonstration to highlight intern shortfalls
Byron Kaye – 19/10/2012 – Medical Observer

Concerns over GP shortage
ABC News – 23/01/2012

Looming shortage of GP supervisors
Megan Reynolds – 10/08/2012

WA doctor shortage set to get worse with more hospitals, says Curtin academic
Hayley Bolton – 05/04/2012 – PerthNow

Australia has desperate shortage of radiologists for medical treatment
Robyn Riley – 25/04/2010 – Herald Sun

Shortage of training places widens
Sarah Colyer – 16/10/2012 – Cardiology Update

Intern rules leave medical students on the outer
Amy Corderoy – 04/01/2011 –

Shortage raises fears of 100km dash for surgery
Joe Kelly – 15/08/2011 – The Australian

Future surgeon shortage can be averted
Sharon Kennedy – 11/04/2012 – ABC South West WA

Chronic shortage of psychiatrists across Western Australia
07/05/2011 – WA Labor

Shortage of rural doctors looms in South Australia
Jordanna Schriever – 29/06/2011 – Adelaide Now

Long wait for Hunter neurologists
ABC News – 04/07/2012

Graduate doctors ‘may be forced to leave NSW’
ABC News – 30/05/2012

Shortage of Anaesthetists
105.7 ABC Darwin – 15/02/2011

More doctors, but not enough: Australian medical workforce supply 2001-2012
Catherine M Joyce, John J McNeil, Johannes U Stoelwinder – Med J Aust 2006; 184 (9): 441-446

Alert over shortage of dermatologists
Adam Cresswell – 17/08/2012 – The Australian

Future demand for Ophthalmologists Could Lead to Shortage
Mivision News – 01/09/2009

Surgery waiting list gets longer
Angela Pownall – 31/01/2012 – The West Australian

Elective surgery waiting lists blow out
ABC News – 16/10/2012



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Medical Student Action on Training (MSAT) is a grassroots movement by Medical Students Australia wide who have united to raise awareness and demand political action be taken to solve the #interncrisis