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The Supply of Doctors in Australia: Is There A Shortage?

understand the situation better, this paper reviews the current English language literature on the supply of doctors in developed and developing countries with a special interest in Australia. The definition of doctor shortage and the accepted ratio of patients to full-time equivalent (FTE) doctors that is followed in this paper, is the one that is provided by the Australian Government�s Department of Health and Ageing. The issue of supply imbalance with respect to doctors is one that is particularly controversial in Australia, with some policy-makers arguing that it is a problem of under-utilisation of existing doctors, not under supply. The paper focuses on the literature on (1) mobility issues relating to geographical and sectoral imbalances, (2) incentive issues (monetary and non-monetary) relating to medical specialisation imbalance and (3) government regulation issues relating to geographical, sectoral and professional specialisation imbalances. The paper offers some suggestions to deal with the problem of supply imbalance. One of the key findings is that developed countries such as Australia cannot continue to rely on foreign-born overseas trained doctors to fill the gaps in supply. Hence, to solve the medical workforce crisis, Australia will have to increase the number of doctors being trained.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 341.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:341
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  1. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  2. Gruen, Reinhold & Anwar, Raqibul & Begum, Tahmina & Killingsworth, James R. & Normand, Charles, 2002. "Dual job holding practitioners in Bangladesh: an exploration," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 267-279, January.
  3. Harrison, Margaret E., 1998. "Female physicians in Mexico: Migration and mobility in the lifecourse," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 455-468, August.
  4. Noether, Monica, 1986. "The Growing Supply of Physicians: Has the Market Become More Competitive?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 503-37, October.
  5. Brown, Richard P. C. & Connell, John, 2004. "The migration of doctors and nurses from South Pacific Island Nations," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(11), pages 2193-2210, June.
  6. Steven Simoens & Jeremy Hurst, 2006. "The Supply of Physician Services in OECD Countries," OECD Health Working Papers 21, OECD Publishing.
  7. Humphrey, Charlotte & Russell, Jill, 2004. "Motivation and values of hospital consultants in south-east England who work in the national health service and do private practice," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(6), pages 1241-1250, September.
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