August 2014 Commonwealth of Australia 2014



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What workforces are included in AFHW – Oral Health?


As noted earlier, Australia’s oral health workforce is comprised of a broad mix of care providers and support workers delivering services to consumers. For the workforce planning projections, only those occupations which form the registered oral health workforce – dentists, oral health therapists, dental hygienists, dental therapists, and dental prosthetists – have been included.

Workforce planning projections were not able to be conducted for the unregistered component of the oral health workforce (dental assistants and dental technicians) due to data limitations – there is no systematic collection of workforce data able to be used to establish workforce supply. A description of the number and characteristics of the unregistered oral health workforce is provided in AFHW – Oral Health – Detailed.

In this publication, workforce planning projections are presented for the total registered oral health workforce, that is, the combined total of dentists, oral health therapists, dental hygienists, dental therapists, and dental prosthetists.

More detailed projections for dentists (including dental specialists), oral health practitioners (comprised of oral health therapists, dental hygienists and dental therapists) and dental prosthetists are presented in AFHW – Oral Health – Detailed.


We have extra capacity in the oral health workforce


Table provides a summary of the scenario modelling results for the oral health workforce. The intention of the scenarios presented is to illustrate policy alternatives and their effects. The scenarios presented are not directly representative of real policies.

The comparison scenario, or ‘do nothing’ scenario, where known settings are held constant into the future, shows the supply of the oral health workforce is projected to exceed demand (which is based on utilisation patterns as they currently exist) across the entire projection period to 2025. While the size and direction of the movement relative to the comparison scenario varies according to each scenario, all present the same result as the comparison scenario – that across the projection period the supply of the oral health workforce is projected to exceed demand. This clearly indicates capacity exists within Australia’s oral health workforce to provide an increased number of services, in the absence of any other changes.



Table : Oral health workforce, summary of workforce supply and demand projections, 2020 and 2025

Scenario

2020 (headcount) – Supply

2020 (headcount) – Demand

2020 (headcount) – Difference

2025 (headcount) – Supply

2025 (headcount) – Demand

2025 (headcount) – Difference

Comparison

22,314

19,021

3,293

26,140

20,496

5,644

Medium self-sufficiency

21,827

19,021

2,806

24,782

20,496

4,286

Productivity

22,314

18,410

3,904

26,140

19,471

6,669

Low demand

22,314

18,054

4,260

26,140

18,919

7,221

High demand

22,314

21,442

872

26,140

24,443

1,697

Initial undersupply

22,314

19,873

2,441

26,140

21,351

4,789

Initial oversupply

22,946

19,021

3,925

26,638

20,496

6,142

Graduate reduction

21,677

19,040

2,637

24,903

20,529

4,374

Figures 1 to 4 graphically represent the workforce supply and demand projections for the comparison and alternative scenarios for the oral health workforce.

Figure 1 shows the effect of changes in demand on the workforce gap relative to the comparison scenario. The low demand scenario extends the amount by which supply exceeds demand, while the high demand scenario reduces the amount by which supply exceeds demand. Of all the scenarios, the high demand scenario results in the greatest movement relative to the comparison scenario. This scenario also has the greatest impact in reducing the gap between supply and demand into the future.

Figure : Oral health workforce supply and demand projections, high and low demand scenarios

the figure shows the supply and demand projections of the high and low demand scenarios together with the results of the comparison supply and comparison demand scenario from 2012 to 2025.

Figure 2 shows the effect of changing oral health workforce supply, through reducing immigration (by 50 per cent in net international migration and a 50 per cent reduction in the number of international students graduating Australian dental programmes, by 2025); and through reducing dental graduates (by a ten per cent reduction in the projected number of graduates to 2017, which was then held constant to 2025). While both scenarios result in reduced future workforce supply, supply is still projected to exceed demand across the projection period (in the absence of any other changes).

The revised workforce supply under both scenarios is almost identical. This indicates a 50 per cent reduction in net international migration and in the number of international students graduating Australian dental programmes by 2025 (the medium self-sufficiency scenario) has almost the same effect as a ten per cent reduction in the projected number of graduates to 2017 (the graduate reduction scenario).

Figure Oral health workforce planning projections, medium self-sufficiency scenario and graduate reduction scenario



the figure shows the workforce planning projections for the medium self-sufficiency and graduate reduction scenarios together with the results of the comparison supply and comparison demand scenario.

Figure 3 shows the results of the productivity scenario – increasing the workforce gap relative to the comparison scenario.

Figure : Oral health workforce planning projections, productivity scenario

the figure shows the workforce planning productivity scenario projection compared to the comparison supply and demand scenario.

There is no quantitative measure of the pre-existing oral health workforce position (whether it is in shortage, balance or supply exceeds demand), so the workforce projections are developed on the assumption that workforce supply and demand are ‘in balance’ in the first year. Figure 4 presents the results of two scenarios developed that assess the impact of an arbitrary undersupply and oversupply in the starting year. In both scenarios, oral health workforce supply exceeds demand across the projection period.

Figure : Oral health workforce, oversupply and undersupply scenarios

the figure shows the workforce planning projection oversupply and undersupply scenarios against the comparison supply and demand scenario.

Appendix G contains more detailed tables of the oral health workforce planning scenario projections, including the input parameters on inflows and exits that were used to generate the supply projections.


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