Govt seeking advice on foreign doctor flow

The Federal Government is seeking advice on whether to curb the influx of overseas-trained doctors, with Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie labelling the status quo "unsustainable".

Australia's doctor shortage of the 1990s is projected to become a glut, with official data suggesting the oversupply could reach 7000 by 2030.

Dr Gillespie will meet on Friday with the advisory group set up last year to assess whether Australia should now roll back measures put in place to address the shortage, like bringing in more overseas-trained doctors and increasing medical student places.

The National Medical Training Advisory Network, made up of federal and state health departments and stakeholders, is due to provide its final report to the minister within weeks.

Several of its members, including the RDAA, have previously warned the government to stop bringing in overseas-trained doctors, while the Federal health department has also raised concerns.

"Some years there's like 1200 overseas-trained doctors coming in — that's a lot," says Dr Gillespie.

"That's like a third of what we're training. It's not sustainable."

Dr Gillespie insists Australia will still need to bring in overseas-trained doctors to fill gaps left by changed work patterns — female doctors choosing to work part-time and younger generations of doctors who aren't working the longer hours of previous generations.

They're also needed to work in remote locations where it's hard to attract local doctors.

Despite being on track to have a doctor glut, rural areas are still facing a doctor drought.

"There's 30% of the country where getting to see a doctor is really hard," says Dr Gillespie.

"It's not acceptable, end of story.” - AAP