There has been a continued decline of the workforce in the health sector internationally, both in developed and developing nations. Some of the causes of the decline include brain drain, shrinking of the population, and the change in career choice for youths and the other working force.
This kind of changes has had a dramatic impact on the economic, social and to some extend political situation of the affected counties. It is ironical that most of the declining workforce in the developed and developing countries are caused by almost opposite factors.
This research work looks into some of the issues that have caused the declining trend of the workforce in the health sector in Australia and how they have impacted on the economy.
Health Workforce planning in Australia Aims at ensuring a balance between the increasing populations that has also increased the demand for health services and the supply of workforce. According to the Australian Health Workforce Advisory Committee and Australian Medical Workforce (2005),
The importance of health workforce planning in Australia is well recognized. Since 1995, the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) has established three national health workforce planning committees, Viz., the Australian Medical workforce Advisory committee (AMWAC) in 1995, the Australian Health Workforce Advisory Committee (AHWAC) in 2001, and the Australian health Workforce officials committee (AHWOC) in 2002.
All the above bodies have got different functions but with the same direction of objective achievement.
AMWAC focuses on the medical workforce, AHWAC focuses on both the nursing and allied health workforces. AHWOC provides an avenue for teaching consensus on national health issues that concern the government involvement and provides advisory services about health workforce to AHMAC.
The role of coordination and implementation of the recommendations that arises at national level workforce as well as the recommendations that are compiled by AHWAC and AMWAC is rested on AHWOC.
There has been an increased change in demographic and health systems in Australia that calls for changes in the planning of the health workforce. Some of the occurring changes that needs to be addressed include:
The complex diseases that have risen which require input from several disciplines to deal with the situation. Secondly, the demand for health services is growing at a pace that the government and other funding organizations are not able to fund them effectively. This calls for more efficient use of health workforce to provide services. Thirdly, there has been decreased workforce in the certain fields or geographic areas, and finally, the health workforce has been shrinking in general.
This kind of challenges has forced the workforce planners to coordinate with those providing health care services so as to have the best use of the available workforce.
Problems that have led to workforce unsustainability.
Australia highly relies on oversees trained professions which doesn’t guarantee the future for more recruitment because of competition from other states such USA, Canada and United Kingdom. the projection that the shrinking of the population in which Australia draws its working force.
there have been increase number of youths going for other careers that are more lucrative than medical fields hence has reduced that number of enrolment in the health sector.
Health trends in Australia
The twentieth century saw a great improvement of economic, social and scientific development in Australia. There was also a great development in the health sector that brought about improved immunization, treatment and a good living lifestyle that improved health status in general. This kind of development increased life expectancy and reduced death rates. (WHO, 2005)
According to the report by the WHO (2005), there were 1306 hospitals in Australia (both public and private) in 2001-2002. The number of beds per 1000 people in public hospitals were 2.6, and in private hospitals1.4.
In 2003, approximately 423,288 people were employed in the health sector, which represented 4.4% of the total employment. There was a 2.6% growth of health workforce in 1998. There was also an increase in the number of registered nurses and midwives between 1998-2003, but a decline in the number of enrolled nurses. In this period, 38% of the employed workforce in the health sector was on part time as compared to the 27% of the total workforce in other sectors.