Health occupations – skills shortage

The Cessnock Skills Audit showed there would be a shortage of health workers in the Hunter Valley region in the next two years.

Current shortage and future need were indicated in a range of health professional occupations. All health professional occupations represented in this section require a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education, with most also requiring internships and/or practical placements within facilities that offer the breadth and level of experience required to meet professional accreditation. Current skill shortages therefore must be met from outside the LGA.

Attracting suitably qualified and experienced health professionals is a challenge faced in most regional areas in Australia.

The Hunter Region is Australia’s largest regional economy[1]. It is home to over 600,000[2] residents and 48,500 business[3] and has an economic output of over $41 billion[4]. The Hunter is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, with the Lower Hunter (2016 population 555,200) being a significant growth corridor. The corridor has the capacity to accommodate 160,000 additional residents over the next 25 years.

Locally however, there are some major challenges that hinder Cessnock LGA’s capacity to attract health professionals. In the Cessnock LGA, much of the residential growth and new development is on the outer rim of the city and in the rural villages.

Rural villages lack the infrastructure and amenity to support their growing populations, and zoning restrictions can hinder development that will support these growing communities. For example, many rural villages within the LGA have zoning restrictions that prevent the building or operation of a Medical Centre.

Cessnock and Kurri Kurri Hospitals currently lack the breadth of services, equipment and facilities to attract talented young health professionals. There appears to be little opportunity for career progression, or opportunities to ‘grow’ and ‘stretch’ within the profession locally.

While Cessnock Emergency Department has recently been upgraded it is often staffed by local GPs on call from their own practice, most of whom are approaching retirement age. The Hospital lacks a maternity department to support population growth, and patients must be transported or travel to a local private provider to access common medical utilities such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), as they are not available at the Hospital.

Doctor or GP, Dentist

Nationally, General Practitioners and Resident Medical Officers are ranked in the top 10 occupations for predicted growth in the 5 years to 2022[1]. There is a national shortage of General Practitioners, and as a result competition with metropolitan areas is very high. In the absence of a specific strategy, Cessnock LGA will face major challenges attracting staff in these occupations now and in the future.

Radiologist, Sonographer

As a profession, Medical Imaging Professionals is predicted to experience 11.3% growth nationally over the next 5 years to 202211. As mentioned above, most medical imaging within the LGA is provided by private businesses.

Chiropractor

As a combined profession, Chiropractors and Osteopaths are predicted to experience 20.9% growth nationally over the next 5 years to 202211.

Registered Nurse

As a profession, Registered Nurses are predicted to experience 23% growth nationally over the next 5 years to 202211. There is a national shortage of Registered Nurses, and as a result competition for qualified staff is very high. In the absence of a specific strategy, Cessnock LGA will face major challenges attracting staff in this occupation now and in the future.

Pharmacist

As a profession, Pharmacists are predicted to experience 11.3% growth nationally over the next 5 years to 202211. There is a national shortage of Pharmacists, and as a result competition for qualified staff is very high. In the absence of a specific strategy, Cessnock LGA will face major challenges attracting staff in this occupation now and in the future.

See other industries in the Cessnock and Hunter Valley area experiencing a skills shortage and training options

Read the Cessnock Skills Audit

See also: Hunter Valley Jobs of the Future

 

[1] Regional Development Australia Hunter (2017) Hunter Investment Prospectus – The Hunter Region: Your Smart Business, Investment and Lifestyle Choice

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics Population of the Hunter Region, 2016 Census (Hunter Region Resident Population was 617,363 at the 2016 Census).

[3] Regional Development Australia Hunter (2017) Hunter Investment Prospectus – The Hunter Region: Your Smart Business, Investment and Lifestyle Choice

[4] Regional Development Australia Hunter (2017) Hunter Investment Prospectus – The Hunter Region: Your Smart Business, Investment and Lifestyle Choice

[5] Investment Opportunities in Cessnock City

[11] Australian Jobs 2018

The Cessnock City jobs portal has been jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Cessnock City Council.