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General practice accreditation in Australia: Data from 2010–2021
Table 1 summarises the overall number of general practices in Australia for the period 2010–2021. From 2010–2019, the overall number of general practices increased by 996. However, the number of practices remained relatively constant at 32 per 100,000 people, reflecting a commensurate increase in the Australian population during this time. The number and proportion of accredited general practices in Australia increased from 4812 (67.3%) in 2010 to 6825 (83.8%) in 2019: a 17% increase over the study period.
From 2010, the variability of the proportion of accredited general practices in each state and territory decreased. In 2010, the proportion of accredited practices ranged from 34.2% (Northern Territory) to 82.3% (Tasmania). Ten years later, the proportion of accredited practices in all states and territories was greater than 80%, except for the Northern Territory (61.5%). Despite having the lowest proportion of accredited practices in 2019, the Northern Territory had the largest increase in proportion of accredited practices of any state or territory from 2010.
The gap in the proportion of accredited practices between the Northern Territory and the next closest state, New South Wales, remains substantial. In the Northern Territory in 2019, 61.5% of practices are accredited, 19.1% fewer than in New South Wales (where 80.6% of practices are accredited).
Even in the states with a high proportion of accredited practices (Queensland 89.1%, Western Australia 87.6%, Australian Capital Territory 85.3%), more than 10% of practices are unaccredited.
Table 2 summarises the change in the number of FTE GPs across all states and territories from 2014 (when the current FTE calculation was introduced) to 2020.
The number of FTE GPs increased each year between 2014 and 2019 (a total increase of 5117 FTE GPs), before dropping between 2019 and 2020 (by 435 FTE GPs). Likewise, the number of FTE GPs per 100,000 people increased from 104.6 in 2014 to 117.0 in 2019 (with an increase each year), before dropping to 114.5 from 2019–2020. The distribution of the GP workforce shows considerable variation between states, territories and across areas of geographic remoteness. In 2020, the Northern Territory had the lowest number of GPs per 100,000 (88.7) and Queensland had the highest number (122.9).
Table 3 provides a summary of the proportional market share of the two accreditation agencies, AGPAL and QPA, during the study period. In 2010, AGPAL held the greater market share for general practice accreditation, accrediting 3818 practices (79% market share) while QPA accredited 994 (21% market share). QPA’s market share has gradually increased since 2010, with its number of accredited practices increasing in eight out of 10 years up to its peak in 2020, when AGPAL accredited 4395 practices (64% market share) and QPA accredited 2497 (36% market share). In 2021, there was a decline in practices accredited by QPA, when AGPAL accredited 4580 practices (70% of market share) and QPA accredited 1920 (30% of market share). In 2021, a total of 6500 practices were accredited, down from 6892 in 2020.
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