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Australia Doctor Shortage

Over-serviced: national doctor shortage ‘a myth. THE number of full-time GPs billing on Medicare has surged at more than twice the rate of both population growth and the increase in Medicare payments back to doctors.

The findings, in a paper to be released today by Monash University demographer Bob Birrell, point to a major “over-servicing” problem and explode the theory that much of Australia has a doctor shortage.

Dr Birrell has used recently released 2011-12 Medicare billing data to show that the number of full-time equivalent GPs grew from 18,091 in 2006-07 to 21,119 in 2011-12 – an increase of 17 per cent at the same time that the population grew by 7.8 per cent and commonwealth payments to GPs increased by 8 per cent…..

…..He argues against the practice of bringing overseas doctors into Australia to service areas where shortages were being experienced.



The last sentence here is important, that is where Birrell’s research starts from or is grounded, that is always something negative about foreigners…..


Then you take headline statistics or polls e.g. unemployment, immigration, population, environment, refugees, net overseas migration, English language skills, property prices, cultural identity and in this case, Medicare payments, then conflate and or correlate to come up with a negative out come, which makes for a good xenophobic headline (surprisingly Birrell, a sociologist, does not use qualitative methods e.g. grounded research theory to assess validity and reliability of issues, statistics, variables etc.?).


It is known as subjective bias or prejudice which therefore makes any literature review, methodology shoddy and and findings invalid.  This is surprising since much is made of Dr. Birrell’s “research skills” and expertise in “demography”, although for someone who has “researched” immigration for so many years he has never had anything positive about Asians etc.?


What he blatantly ignores or failed to take into account are: baby boomer doctors retiring in higher numbers, ageing population requiring more GP visits etc., and what is the solution, apart from banning “foreigners”?


In future maybe Dr. Bob Birrell should team up with another demographer, not colleague or fellow traveller, to do joint literature review, methodology, research and findings such as Bernard Salt?


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