There are recognised shortages in most health professions in Australia. This is evidence that previous attempts at health workforce planning have failed. This paper argues that one reason for such failure is the lack of appropriate structures for health workforce planning. It also suggests that Australia needs to move beyond planning for particular professions and that health workforce planning needs to be based on identifying skill shortages as much as shortages in particular named professionals. The paper proposes specific policy suggestions to facilitate workforce flexibility and health workforce planning in Australia.