Recruiting, retaining and supporting General Practitioners (GPs), Nurses and Allied Health Professionals in rural New South Wales, Australia

Succession Planning Manual

The NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) has designed a manual to assist rural GPs to create their own Succession Plan, that is, a plan for the time when a doctor will want to reduce the hours of medical service provided to the community. This may be because the GP wants to take extended leave, to reduce hours for lifestyle reasons, or to retire or move to another location.

Succession Planning is defined as 'planning to ensure rural GPs are replaced in a timely manner without loss of effectiveness'.

In the rural setting, a GP's decision to move on from the practice or to reduce the hours s/he provides, has far reaching implications not only for the GP but for the GP's family, the practice staff, the practice patients and sometimes the community as a whole. The purpose of making a Succession Plan is to smooth the transition from one GP to the next, whether this is a complete or a partial transfer, making it less traumatic for all concerned, but especially for the GP making the change.

The GPs who piloted the Succession Planning model reported that the process had unexpected benefits, namely:

  • The discipline of assembling documentation provided a valuable opportunity to examine the practice as a viable business and subsequently to reinforce or fill gaps in existing systems.
  • Taking the time to plan for what the GP wanted allowed them to bring their vision for the future from a concept to a real possibility. The planning made it possible to see how goals could be achieved and in what timeframe.

Read the background to this Succession Planning service.

Read an overview of the Succession Planning model.

Read instructions on how to create an online Succession Plan.

Create your own Succession Plan.

Read the Evaluation Report on rural GPs' experiences of planning for succession.