4819.0 - Selected Health Occupations: Australia, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/06/2008  First Issue
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  • More doctors, working for longer: ABS (Media Release)


June 17, 2008
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEST)
More doctors, working for longer: ABS

The per capita rate of doctors and dentists working in Australia has increased over the last 20 years while the rate of nurses has recovered from a decline, according to a new analysis of Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS found that between 1986 and 2006, the number of general practitioners per 100,000 people increased from 152.6 to 178.6, the rate of specialists nearly doubled - from 57.7 to 92 - and dentist numbers went from 40.5 to 45.7 per 100,000 people.

However, the number of nurses per 100,000 people fell between 1986 and 1996 (from 1,113.7 to 1,048.7), but came back to 1,106.9 in 2006.

Doctors were more likely to remain in the workforce as they got older, with 12% of GPs and 14% of specialists aged 60 or older, compared to 7% of all employed people.

They were also more likely to work long hours; GPs in cities worked an average of 49.2 hours per week, while those in very remote areas worked 53.6 hours a week. Specialists worked particularly long hours; 15% of specialists put in more than 65 hours a week.

The rate of general medical practitioners per person in major cities (204.9 per 100,000) is more than double that in very remote Australia.

Other findings include:
  • In 1986, there were 639 GPs who had recently arrived in Australia from overseas; in 2006 this increased to 3,586.
  • Between 1986 and 2006, India replaced England as the most common country of birth for recently arrived doctors.
  • Recently arrived GPs account for more than a quarter of all GPs in remote and very remote areas.
  • Between 1986 and 2006 the proportion of GPs who were women increased from 25% to 39%, and the proportion of dentists who were women increased from 29% to 48%, but the proportion of nurses who were men increased only slightly, from 7% to 9%.

More details are available in Selected Health Occupations; Australia, 2006(cat. no. 4819.0).