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The problem in Australia

The problem in Australia is associated with workforce shortage as the number of health professional is decreasing dramatically despite the fact that reliance on overseas professionals has grown. It goes without saying that the highest percent of shortage is observed in rural, remote and special need areas. The demand for health workforce is increasing due to rapid developments in technology and growing expectations of community. Population ageing plays also important role. As a result, a labor market will be tightened as one will require new care models.

Healthcare expenditures are increasing amounting more than 9. 5% of GDP. The need to train more healthcare professionals is observed. Actually, it is possible to improve the retention for qualified professionals as it is necessary to increase effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare workforce. Distribution of workforce should be improved as well. The next moment to mention is that the objectives of the Commission are to maintain high quality of commitment, to develop more responsive and responsible healthcare workforce and to ensure safer health outcomes.

The Commission proposes to establish national workforce structure which will responsible for supporting of local innovations and for driving national significance through improvement of health workforce; for promoting more responsible health education programs and training courses by creating independent advisory council; for achieving greater transparency of funding and appropriate contestability; for training and achieving the national accreditation board; for delegating functions to appropriate entities; for contributing objectives of the newly designed accreditation regime; for ensuring and following national registration board; for supporting professional panels, etc. Funding-related incentives of workforce should be improved through ensuring better transparency and assessment by independent committees. Overview Australian government realizes that every health care system requires enhancement and improvements to respond to human needs and to find individualistic approach to every patient. According official rates Australian health system depends on skills of more than half a million people and the same amount pf volunteers.

The Productivity Commission Research Report describes a series of reform designed to develop more responsive and more sustainable health workforce arrangements. The Commission stresses the importance to improve the regulatory, funding and institutional frameworks in healthcare system, in particular, in policy formulation and decision-making. In other words, the report proposes readers integrated set of recommendations, descriptions and analysis aimed at driving reforms from words into practices. The objective of the report is to make public aware of necessity to maintain safe and qualified healthcare system. In their turn, healthcare workers expect more responsive training courses and professional education.

The Commission proposes to accredit the institutions and professional training courses, as well as to register healthcare workforce in coherent frameworks and consolidated establishments. Further, the Commission stresses the necessity to provide access to high quality and safe care and to promote innovations in health workforce. However, the newly developed national entities should operate through strong links to ensure the most effective outcomes. It is noted that “whatever precise organisational configuration is adopted, good governance arrangements that promote the public interest will be essential if genuine progress is to be made”. (p. 429)

Health outcomes in Australia are similar to those in similarly developed countries and the total healthcare spending amounts, as it is mentioned above, about 10% of national GDP. It is rising accordingly. Nevertheless, these outcomes are not attributed to commitment and expertise observed in healthcare system as the country is experiencing shortage of highly qualified professionals. In particular regions poor health outcomes are observed – in remote and rural areas. The problem with healthcare deliver is caused primarily by inefficiencies and inflexibilities in workplace arrangements. The demand is growing, labor supply is tightening, and Australian healthcare system is being constantly pressed.

Workforce issues discussed are: factors which affect the future supply and demand of labor force; effectiveness, efficiency and availability of workforce; reforms in health workforce arrangements; necessary improvements in quality and safety of Australian healthcare system. The central idea is that “changes required to improve health workforce arrangements could only occur as part of broader health policy and health funding reforms”. (p. 13) Nevertheless, the Commission isn’t going to achieve this objective, as well as to profess expertise in specific workforce arrangements. The Commission is concentrating on creation of more responsive, sustainable and efficient healthcare environment with properly managed funding and institutional arrangements. A number of performance indicators can be used to assess appropriateness of healthcare reforms.

For example, measures include safety and quality; the extend and the nature of changes in job responsibilities; the costs and time needed for education ad training of healthcare professionals; the abilities of labor force to apply their competencies to changing workplace environment and patient needs; improvements in effectiveness and productivity of healthcare professionals. Summing up, Australia has to concentrate to achieving the national self sufficiency in healthcare system and to acknowledge it as a part of global market. Access to health care should be optimized and specific requirements of people with special needs should be recognized. Recommendations

Shortage in health workforce should be paid more attention and Australian government should motivate the Health Ministry to evaluate and to facilitate health workforce innovations. Moreover, improvements should be provided in nationals, timetabled and systematic basis. Necessary education, finance, knowledge and health should be provided to respond to changing patients’ needs and demands. Further, a single national accreditation board should be established for extensive professional training and education. The uniform national standards for profession should be established for every health professional who is applying for a job. It will be effective in eliminating discrimination.

Institutional structures are claimed to be rationalized and a single secretariat should function ad report. Next, rural and remote areas are expected to be paid more attention as healthcare deliver is rather poor in these regions, as well as in regions with special needs. Healthcare system in Australia has much strength, and the country should embrace all opportunities and utilize all available resources to fight shortage of health workforce and to increase the overall level of healthcare delivery. The total spending on healthcare should be increased.


Productivity Commission Research Report. (2005). Australia’s Health Workforce, retrieved August 12, 2008, from http://www. pc. gov. au

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