8689.0 - Private Medical Practitioners, Australia, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2002   
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October 29, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Rural and remote general practitioners working long hours

General practitioners in rural and remote areas are working longer hours than their metropolitan counterparts, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

In 2002 there were 18,867 general practitioners in Australia who were mainly working in private practice. The overall average number of hours worked by these general practitioners each week was 47 hours. On average, general practitioners in remote areas worked 57 hours. This compared with an average 52 hours for those working in rural areas and an average 46 hours in metropolitan areas. Of those general practitioners working in rural and remote areas, 40% worked an average of more than 60 hours per week compared with 26% of metropolitan general practitioners.

Consistent with the long working hours of general practitioners were a high number of private patient contacts per week. Whilst general practitioners had an average of 136 private patient contacts per week, 22% reported between 150 and 199 contacts per week and a further 22% reported more than 200 contacts per week.

Females account for 33% of all general practitioners in Australia. They are often younger than their male counterparts with 55% aged under 45 years and only 15% aged over 55 years. This compares with 31% of male general practitioners aged less than 45 and 35% over 55 years.

The survey results identified that Australia has 10,509 specialists mainly working in private practice. On average these specialists work 54 hours per week (compared with an average 47 hours for general practitioners). The results have shown that within this specialist group, surgeons and gynaecologists/obstetricians worked the longest hours (average 59 hours) followed by paediatricians (average 58 hours).

The specialist profession is even more dominated by males, with females accounting for only 14% of all specialists in Australia. Females, however are strongly represented in the younger age groups accounting for 25% of all specialists under 45 years.

Further details can be found in Private Medical Practitioners, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 8689.0).