GP Workforce Scoping Study

In 2009, the ACT Government established a Taskforce to examine access to primary health care services in the ACT and recommend a system of sustainable primary care services for Canberra. The ACT GP Taskforce Report, General Practice and Sustainable Primary Health Care – The Way Forward, found a general practice system under pressure, experiencing many changes in distribution and workforce, and experiencing significant general practice workforce shortages.

In October 2012, with funding support from the ACT Government, the ACT Medicare Local (ACTML) commissioned Rural Health Workforce Australia (RHWA) to conduct an ACT GP Workforce Scoping Study on behalf of an expert advisory group of key general practice, medical education and ACT health stakeholders (the ACT GP Workforce Working Group). The final report was published in August 2013.

The purpose of the ACT GP Workforce Scoping Study was to develop an up-to-date dataset of the GP workforce to gain better understanding of the GP workforce in the ACT and future requirements. It was designed to compare the results with the findings of the ACT GP Taskforce Report (2009). The study involved the following:

  1. Surveying GP Practice Managers to provide a snapshot of the current ACT GP workforce.
  2. Assessing the future career intentions of the current ACT GP workforce through a GP Survey.
  3. Conducting a literature review of the current ACT GP workforce.
  4. Modeling analysis to inform future requirements.

The survey response rate was high with 91% of practices and 56% of GPs responding to the survey. The scoping study found that the workforce pressures have eased since 2009, however this is tempered by the high proportion of part-time workers and GPs intending to retire or move from the ACT over the next five years. Although more medical students are being trained in the ACT than ever before, workforce demand is increasing with a growing and ageing population.  

Two follow-up surveys of GPs and Allied Health Professionals were conducted by the ACTML in late 2013 to gain an understanding of the ACT primary health care workforce’s perspective on interacting with services provided by ACT Health. The resulting Report on Results from ACT Health Interaction Survey 2013 was published in May 2014, and covers a wide range of issues including awareness of available ACT Health services, referral and discharge processes, the use of shared care guidelines, and possible opportunities for improvement.