Media Releases and Communiques
Health Ministers agree to National Health Workforce Action Plan
Australian Health Ministers today released Australia's first National Health Workforce Action Plan.
29 July 2004
Joint CommuniqueHealth Ministers agree to National Health Workforce Action Plan
Australian Government, State and Territory Health Ministers today released Australia's first National Health Workforce Action Plan.
The Action Plan implements key elements of the National Health Workforce Strategic Framework at a national level.
The Action Plan sets out a range of health workforce initiatives to improve the sustainability of Australia's health workforce.
The Plan also builds on recent growth in health workforce supply through additional undergraduate places, and the recent agreement to convene a meeting of education and health CEOs to improve alignment between workforce planning and the allocation of undergraduate and other training places.
It recognises that there is significant jurisdictional investment in health workforce issues and will establish new mechanisms to recognise jurisdictional innovation and excellence.
Together national and jurisdictional plans implementing the National Health Workforce Strategic Framework will help to achieve significant progress on health workforce issues.
The Action Plan includes the following initiatives:
More health workers - improving supply and halting attrition
Health workforce shortages are a significant challenge across Australia. The Action Plan contains a range of projects to help address health workforce shortages. Some projects focus on attracting people to work in the health workforce and keeping people working in the health sector longer. Others include understanding the future needs for the health workforce better, while others are focussed on addressing specific health workforce shortages such as public sector dentists.
Increasing system responsiveness and workforce flexibility will help the health workforce cope with increasing demand and a shrinking labour market. Projects in the Action Plan will:
- Explore the capacity of changes in health workforce skill mix to improve service delivery and address shortages in areas such as radiation oncology, pathology/medical scientists and dentists/dental auxiliaries
- Identify alternative approaches to existing health workforce education and training, through exploring innovative and/or fast-track approaches to qualifications
- Explore innovative approaches to clinical placements which could increase the health system's capacity to support health workforce education and training
- Continue work to improve workforce distribution through targeted schemes
- Address nursing workforce issues through the National Nursing and Nursing Education Taskforce
- Streamline medical registration through the Nationally Consistent Medical Registration project
- Explore regulatory issues in workforce reform and redesign
A better understanding of the health workforce will enable improved decision-making and the development of more accurate and effective health workforce strategies. Projects in the Action Plan include:
- Studies to project future health workforce requirements based on models of care and individual professions in radiation oncology, GPs, surgical specialties, diabetes care and other areas
- Better understanding the hospital medical workforce
- Using surveys to better understand doctors' career intentions
- Improving the quality, consistency and timeliness of health workforce data
Solutions to common workforce challenges
A range of projects in the Action Plan will develop information resources on solutions to common workforce challenges. These resources will be available for use nationally or by individual jurisdictions or professions, and include:
- Developing a workforce impact statement for better health workforce planning
- Identifying best practice approaches to health workforce attraction and retention
- Finding ways to keep people in the health workforce longer
- Maximising VET sector opportunities for increased training
- Establishing a Health Workforce Clearinghouse for information sharing
Media Contact: Stewart Prins, Minister Llewellyn's office, 0419 339 262
Kay McNiece, AHMC Secretariat 0412 132 585