Spike in intake of overseas-trained doctors

Doctor with patient. | Newsreel
The number of overseas-trained doctors registered to practice in Australia has doubled. | Photo: SDI Productions (iStock)

Australia has increased the annual intake of overseas-trained doctors by more than 1500 over the past five years, with Queensland numbers almost doubling.

New Federal Government figures show 4699 doctors from overseas have registered to practise in Australia in the first 10 months of this financial year.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the figure was 50 percent more than the 2991 doctors who registered in the entire year before COVID in 2018-19.

Minister Butler said 8910 doctors from overseas had joined the health workforce between July 2022 and April 2024.

“Record numbers of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health professionals are moving to Australia and working in the health system,” he said.

Minister Butler said one in two doctors who first registered to practise last financial year were educated overseas, with 60 percent of doctors coming from four countries with large English-speaking populations: United Kingdom, Ireland, India and Philippines.

“Internationally-educated doctors who want to provide Medicare services must spend their first 10 years working in a regional, rural or remote community. This means most newly-registered doctors are likely to be practising outside of the major cities.”

In Queensland, more than 1000 overseas-trained doctors have registered to practice in the state so far this financial year. The number was 564 in 2018-19.

Minister Butler said the rise in overseas-educated health workers also extended to nurses, midwives and other health professionals, with 42,086 health professionals registering to practise since July 2022.

“The 22,797 practitioners that registered in the first 10 months of this financial year is already more than two times larger than the year before COVID, when just 10,547 practitioners joined the workforce from overseas,” Minister Butler said.

Overseas-trained Registered doctors Australia. | Newsreel
Sum of state figures is smaller than the total figure, as some doctors do not provide their principal place of practice address when they first register.