A sociological approach to workforce shortages: Findings of a qualitative study in Australian hospitals

Collyer, Fran
October 2007
Health Sociology Review;Oct2007, Vol. 16 Issue 3/4, p248
Academic Journal
Many countries, including Australia, are currently experiencing severe shortages of professional, para-professional, and semi-professional workers in their health care systems. This is generally conceived as a problem stemming from rising demand in health care services or the production of inadequate numbers of health related graduates. A qualitative study of health care workers in the Australian context challenges the adequacy of this supply-demand approach to the health care system; and demonstrates that solutions lie in the conceptualisation of the health sector as a socio-cultural system. Findings indicate the extent to which policies independently formulated for the health, education, finance, and industry sectors have, in combination, inadvertently impacted on the functioning of the health care system, and some policy mechanisms, such as privatisation and marketisation, have fundamentally eroded its structural framework. Conclusions can therefore be drawn about the relationship between workforce shortages and the neo-liberal orientation of recent governments.


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