The Commonwealth Government has responsibility for ensuring that growth, distribution and standards of the medical workforce are appropriate to the needs of the Australian community. There is nationally an oversupply of general practitioners (GPs) in metropolitan areas and a shortage in rural areas. There is also a shortage of specialists in many rural areas, and some specialties are also in undersupply in the public hospital system in metropolitan areas.
Overseas-trained doctors (OTDs) or former overseas medical students (that is, persons who were not Australian citizens or permanent residents when they commenced study for their medical degree in Australia) can come to Australia on either a temporary basis (temporary resident doctors) or as permanent residents. Rules regarding medical registration of overseas-trained doctors differ depending on the immigration status of the doctors and the requirements of the State or Territory in which they intend to practice.
Changes to Commonwealth legislation have severed the automatic link between medical registration and access to Medicare rebates for overseas-trained doctors and new Australian graduates. However, all doctors with Australian medical registration can obtain a provider number from the Health Insurance Commission that enables them to prescribe pharmaceuticals, order diagnostic tests and refer patients to other doctors.
Overseas-trained doctors wanting to work in private practice, either as general practitioners or specialists, require exemptions from restrictions in the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act) to obtain Medicare provider numbers which enable them to provide services which attract Medicare benefits.
Note: RxPG will present a series of articles about information on Information and updates for Overseas Trained Doctors Wishing to practise in Australia. For more details see RxPG Australia Section. Click here