The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is calling for reforms to address equality and pay parity for women GPs on International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2023.
Females are expected to make up a significantly larger proportion of Australia’s GP workforce in the future with the number of women GPs growing more quickly. The number of women GPs in training has surpassed men, at 58% women compared to 39% men, according to the latest RACGP Health of the Nation report.
There were 18,472 women GPs in the workforce in 2020-21, compared to 19,916 men.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said Australia’s women GPs need to be celebrated and supported.
“More women are becoming GPs than ever, and we should celebrate this as it highlights where progress has been made towards gender equality,” she said.
“The days when being a doctor was solely a profession for men are far behind us. However, we still have a way to go to achieve equality.
“One of the key issues is that women GPs tend to spend longer with their patients because they see more people with complex needs. Female GPs spend 19 minutes on average with patients compared to 16 minutes for male GPs.
“But Medicare pays less per minute for longer consultations, meaning women GPs and their patients are being unfairly penalised.
“This needs to change. Australia’s population is ageing and we’re seeing more and more people with chronic conditions, and mental health issues which require complex care – this trend is not going away.
“It’s time for the government to invest in Medicare patient rebates for longer consultations and stop penalising the GPs who provide this care and the patients who need it.
“More funding for longer consultations will make a real difference for people with complex needs across Australia. This includes women with complex and sensitive issues, including sexual health and reproductive concerns, mental health issues, and those experiencing abuse and violence.”
The RACGP President also thanked Australia’s women GPs for their hard work and achievements.
“Women GPs are breaking barriers every day and they are greatly valued by their patients and communities,” she said.
“Our annual Health of the Nation survey shows women GPs are significantly more likely to see patients for psychological issues and women’s health issues than their male counterparts. So, we know access to women GPs is important for communities across Australia.
“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made towards equality, and I want to recognise the achievements of women GPs across the nation.
“Australia’s future GP workforce is going to be largely female, and women also make up a significant proportion of other roles in general practice, including nurses, administrative and support staff. After the past few challenging years, I think it’s important that we remember that we work in a valuable and rewarding job, and our contributions make a real difference in communities across the nation.”