This time we cannot blame the Coronavirus. This time it is a combination of bad planning and the inability to recognise important trends. In any case, the results are likely to be detrimental to Australian communities.
As we wrap up 2020, we reflect on the changes in workforce supply and what that is likely to mean in 2021 and beyond:
Deliberate planning to reduce GP numbers:
Reduction in GP numbers by other factors:
While 2020 has taught me that it is impossible to anticipate or predict the future, I am worried for Australian communities that may find it difficult to access GP care in the coming years.
I am not worried about the wealthy inner suburbs where many Australian GPs want to live and work. They will always have a ready supply of medical professionals and they are likely to have the healthcare they need.
But I am worried about the outer metropolitan suburbs where bulk billing practices rely heavily on overseas doctors. I worry for the families in the areas that have the highest rates of chronic illness and are the most likely to poor health outcomes.
Do I worry too much? Will there be a plan that will change the trajectory of GP workforce planning in Australia? Maybe you have some thoughts you would like to share? And maybe at the end of next year or the year after, we will have more answers to my questions. And maybe I will be proven wrong – and that would definitely be a good thing.
Commentary by Martina Stanley
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