Notes on the data: Health workforce

Medical, nursing and dental professionals, 2011


Policy context:  The data presented show geographic variations in the number and rate of general, specialist and other medical practitioners, nurses and dental practitioners, as compiled by Health Workforce Australia and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The availability of these data at a small area level is important for the planning of health services, which are delivered in the community by a range of health practitioners.


Notes:  The National Health Workforce Dataset (NHWDS) is comprised of registration and workforce survey data from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This dataset contains records for all AHPRA professions for employed practitioners who completed a workforce survey form. The data have been weighted [1] to represent the total number of people who are registered with AHPRA for each profession.

The data were extracted on 13/12/2013 and may not be the most up to date data for 2011. For the latest data release, please refer to the Health Workforce Australia (HWA) Health Workforce Data.

All data exclude those professionals on extended leave or not in the health workforce. Other data regarding the Australian health workforce, such as those held by the National Centre for Geographic & Resource Analysis in Primary Health Care (GRAPHC), may not be comparable with these data as they include health professionals on extended leave.

The Local Government Area to which each professional is allocated is the principal practice address, as provided by the practitioner in the survey.

Values between 0 and 3 have been confidentialised. This has been done in accordance with HWA confidentialisation rules that randomly allocate scores of 0 or 3 to all values of 1 and 2 to protect confidentiality. However, some larger geographical areas such as capital cities, major urban centres and rest of state data are calculated from HWA Local Government Area data, which may contain such scores. This results in the sum of these areas not always precisely adding up to larger geographical areas such as State totals.

General medical practitioners are defined as the weighted figure of those respondents that listed their principal role as a clinician and principal area of work as General Practice. This definition is that used by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Other specialists are not able to be defined in the same way and are defined by how they reported their primary specialty.

Total Medical practitioners are defined as the sum of the weighted figure of those that reported their primary specialty (including unknown and not applicable).

Note: Total Medical practitioners may not equal the sum of General practitioners, Specialist practitioners (excluding General practitioners) and Unknown/ Not available specialties. This is because of the slight difference in how General practitioners are defined in the two instances.

Health workforce indicators

General Medical practitioners
Unknown/Not applicable Medical practitioners
Total Medical practitioners
Registered Nurses only
Registered Nurses who are also Midwives
Total Registered Nurses
Enrolled Nurses
Midwives (may also be a Registered Nurse or Enrolled Nurse)
Total Nurses (Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses or Midwives, each person only counted once)
Total Dental practitioners (includes Dentists, Oral health therapists, Dental hygienists, Dental therapists, and Dental prosthetists)


[1] Medical Practitioners Data Dictionary. Health Workforce Australia [Internet]. [cited 2013 Jan 31]. Available from:


Numerator:  Weighted number of medical, nursing or dental professionals for each profession or group of professions


Denominator:  Total population


Detail of analysis:  Number of medical, nursing or dental professionals per 100,000 people


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the National Health Workforce Dataset (NHWDS), jointly owned by Health Workforce Australia and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011; and ABS Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2011.


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