Health of the Nation and General Practice Workforce – Australia
The Royal College of GPs produce an annual General Practice workforce study and Health of the Nation report. The report reflects the current trends and issues impacting the future of Australian healthcare. We have summarised keys points below regarding the General practice workforce in Australia.
Australian general practices operate a billing system. Practices are defined as private, mixed or bulk billing. A private billing practice will charge their patients at the point of consultation, whereas bulk billing practices claim the cost of the treating their patients from Medicare. Mixed billing clinics do a combination of both.
Recent Medicare statistics show that 86.1% of general practice services in Australia are bulk billed. While this figure provides an indication of total bulk billed services in Australia, it does not represent the number of patients who are bulk billed. Patients may receive a number of services during a single visit to the GP, of which some may be privately billed. It was found that the proportion of patients who were fully bulk billed was actually much lower.
General Practice Workforce
There are 36,000 GPs practising in Australia across 6300 GP practices with the majority of GPs centered around the Eastern states. There are fewer GPs per patient in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.
The Australian GP workforce is diverse in terms of gender, age and cultural background. Almost equal to the Australian population, 45% of GPs practising are female. In terms of age, 78% of GPs are between 35 – 64. Interestingly in 2015/2016 the number of GPs who gained their basic qualification at an overseas university represented a higher proportion of GPs who completed their qualifications in Australia or New Zealand. This is a trend which appears to continue.
GP Job Satisfaction and work-life balance
When GPs were asked to take everything relating to their role as a GP into consideration, almost 90% of GPs reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied in their role.
More than 90% of GPs are satisfied or very satisfied with the variety in their work. Due to the varied nature of general practice and the range of patient health issues, GPs were asked how they spend most of their working day.
The majority of GPs reported that over 70% of their working day was providing direct patient care. 13% of their day was providing indirect patient care, 6% on management and administration and 9% classified as other. Interestingly GPs spent more time on each patient, with the average consultation time
Hours of work
Nearly 85% of GPs report being satisfied or very satisfied with their work hours. GP satisfaction with work hours remained high across various employment types (GP principal/ partner, associate, salaried employee, contracted employee), with at least 70% stating they are moderately or very satisfied overall. GPs working as Independent Contractors rather than GP Owners were the most satisfied (87%) among all employment types.
The maintenance of a good work–life balance varies depending on how many hours a GP works. GPs who work fewer than 40 hours a week have a more positive view of their work–life balance than those working 40 or more hours a week. Overall, 52% of GPs reported that they are able to maintain a good work–life balance and 60% of GPs believe that their workload is manageable
There is a positive relationship between overall job satisfaction and remuneration. GPs who indicate that they are very satisfied when earn more per hour than GPs who are very dissatisfied
GPs caring for patients in outer-regional and remote areas report being more satisfied with their remuneration than those in major cities.
The report does not indicate the actual or range of incomes produced by GPs in Australia. For a full time GP incomes tend to be in the region of $250 – $300K per annum with many GPs earning much more. Please do get in touch with one of our team to discuss further.
Health conditions experienced by patients
It was found that 87.8% of the Australian population see their GP at least once per year and although patients can visit any GP surgery or any doctor, 78% of patients have a preferred GP. Most patients have a very positive view of visiting their GP. 75% report that their GP always listens carefully, shows respect and spends enough time with them.
Common health issues experienced by patients
Psychological issues (e.g. depression, mood disorders, anxiety) remain the most common health complaint managed by GPs. It was found that GPs with particular characteristics managed different health concerns e.g. younger and female GPs are more likely to provide family planning care. We talk to many GPs in Australia who explore personal clinical interests and build a patient base suited to their interest.
When looking at the health care issues causing the most concern for the future of the nation’s health, GPs cited mental health followed by obesity.
It was noted that most GPs look after patients with multiple health concerns, with almost 25% of patients in Australia experience two or more chronic health issues.
Further Blog Posts
We are leading GP recruitment experts for doctors wishing to relocate to Australia or New Zealand. If you would like to discuss your circumstances further, we would be delighted to help. Please get in touch with one of our team.