Medical workforce increasing, but regional areas still suffer

Date: Aug 31, 2011

A report commissioned by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that the number of medical practitioners and nurses employed in both the private and public sectors has increased between 2005 and 2009 by as much as 22.1 per cent.

The paper – titled Medical Labour Force 2009 – outlines the changes occurring to the country's medical profession as a result of various improvements in technology and adjustments to departmental policy.

As an example the average weekly hours recorded by practitioners decreased by 3.4 per cent during the four years reported, going from 43.7 hours in 2005 to 42.2 hours in 2009.

In regional areas, these changes varied dramatically, as the number of practitioners actually decreased.

In remote locations, the number of medical personnel fell by as much as 52.5 per cent per capita when compared to the same figures for major cities.

While population fluctuations may have had an impact on these figures, it does show that the level of personal care in regional areas appears to be suffering.

One problem that may result from this phenomenon is that Australia's increasingly aging population have to rely on a dwindling number of medical providers, leading to overworked staff.

It is widely recognised that long hours and increased workloads can cause staff in any profession to suffer from rising stress levels.

In turn, employees can experience difficulty sleeping, decreased appetites and personality disorders – all of which could impact on their performance in their profession.

When it comes to the medical profession, a combination of these conditions could be argued to result in a lower level of care provided to patients.

In Australia, provisions can be made that allow victims who experience malpractice at the hands of a doctor or nurse to apply for compensation.

The AIHW reports that the most common cause for complaint that results in a claims case is related to impeded movement or neuromusculoskeletal damage, with mental health issues also cited as a common cause of distress.

Between 2008 and 2009, over 8,500 claims were made against clinical practitioners, with 66 per cent of these finalised within three years of proceedings being launched

Gaining access to trusted legal advice from an experienced source – such as a medical negligence lawyer – can go a long way to reducing the stresses involved in preparing the documentation for court hearings.

A no win no fee law firm can also lower the initial costs associated with launching a claim.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.