NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) is a not-for-profit and non-government organisation, and is designated by the Australian Government as the Rural Workforce Agency (RWA) (for health) in New South Wales (NSW).
RDN aims to ensure that the highest possible standard of healthcare is provided to remote and rural communities in NSW through the provision of a highly skilled and continuing medical and health workforce.
RDN is a membership organisation numbering more than 1,500 with 1,032 registered Medical Practitioners as Primary Members and 502 Associate Members who, although not eligible for Primary Membership, wish to support the aims and objectives of the Network.
Read more about RDN’s:
- Purpose, values and goals
- Programs and services
- Operating context
- Funding sources
To improve access to quality healthcare for people in remote, rural and regional New South Wales.
To support the provision and retention of adequate numbers of high-quality health professionals in remote, rural and regional New South Wales.
Underpinning our approach to our work are our values, which we embed in our daily operations:
Accountability - we commit to being responsible for our actions.
Adaptability - we are agile and responsive to changing needs in order to create solutions and make a positive difference for our stakeholders.
Collaboration - we share and contribute to collective processes to create more effective practice and achieve specific goals and outcomes.
Excellence - we strive to achieve and maintain high-quality standards in our relationships and services.
Integrity - we live and work by a set of ethical standards and behaviours.
RDN offers a range of services, programs and activities across NSW that:
- help remote, rural and regional communities, general practices and health services to find suitably skilled and qualified General Practitioners (GPs), nurses and allied health professionals to work in their towns
- assist suitably skilled and qualified GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to pursue careers in remote, rural and regional NSW (this includes both Australian and International Medical Graduates/Overseas Trained Doctors)
- support existing remote, rural and regional doctors, nurses and allied health professionals through the provision of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities and succession planning
- provide financial support for further study, training and short courses
- assist in finding locum support for remote, rural and regional GPs through our unique and free Locum Match service
- deliver a wide range of health outreach services to remote and rural towns
- support remote, rural and regional medical partners and families
- provide a range of scholarships, support and information for students studying medicine or health-related degrees in NSW.
RDN also works with:
- Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services to support health services for Aboriginal peoples
- rural NSW Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to support remote, rural and regional GPs and the health workforce
- local communities, governments and rural Local Health Districts (LHDs) on workforce matters
- university medical faculties to promote rural medicine.
While RDN provides services and programs for rural health, its major input is facilitating other organisations in working together to fill workforce gaps, provide a cohesive approach to health services, and to innovate to expand access to healthcare for people living in remote, rural and regional NSW.
RDN achieves its objectives by working collaboratively with rural PHNs, the Rural Doctors Association of NSW, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Rural Training Providers, the Australian Medical Association, the University Medical Faculties and Departments of Rural Health, the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council, State and Federal Departments of Health, rural Local Health Districts, local government and other key stakeholders.
As the RWA in NSW, RDN works within a large and complex environment that involves stakeholders including doctors, nurses, allied health practitioners, medical practices, health service organisations, educational institutions, governments and community groups.
Rural medical and health practitioners*
- 2,039 rural NSW GPs excluding registrars
- 2,567 rural NSW GPs including registrars working in 652 rural practices in Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) 2-5
- 672 rural NSW GPs who are Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs) in rural hospitals ASGC-RA 2-5
- 241 GP vacancies registered with RDN in rural towns
- 20 nurses through the Rural Health Professionals Program (RHPP)
- 76 allied health workers through the RHPP
- More than 900 urban and regionally based medical specialists, nurses and allied health practitioners who provide health outreach services to rural towns, supported by RDN and its partners
- RDN communicates with around 400 urban, rural interstate and overseas doctors who are interested in locum work in NSW and facilitates more than 70 locum placements each year
- Seven PHNs serving rural NSW
- Seven rural and three urban Local Health Districts
- All Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and several ACCH-related services
- Eight medical schools and their associated rural campuses
- 17 rural referral hospitals
- 125 RDA Settlement Package hospitals
- One state-based NACCHO affiliate
- The NSW Ministry of Health (MoH) has funded RDN since 1988.
- The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) funds RDN activities through a range of medical and health workforce and health outreach programs. On 1 July 2017 continued DoH funding for workforce was restructured under the Rural Health Workforce Support and Health Workforce Scholarship programs.
- The RDN region spans 88 rural local government bodies (Shires or Councils), some of which provide funds to RDN to administer medical student Bush Bursaries in their towns.
*At 30 June 2018
The framework through which RDN operates is a Board of Directors headed by an elected Chair and Deputy Chair who are both in rural general practice. The Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction for RDN, for developing policy and planning priorities, and for ensuring that RDN meets its contractual agreements and obligations.
The RDN Board comprises individuals nominated by RDN members (two), Rural Doctors Association (RDA (NSW)), Australian Medical Association (AMA (NSW)), Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC), Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP - NSW Faculty) and the NSW Ministry of Health (MoH) (two).
*At 30 June 2018
The Board of Directors is responsible for determining the overall policy and priorities of the organisation, and for ensuring that RDN meets funding agreements and contractual obligations.
2019 RDN Board (appointed at the November 2018 Annual General Meeting)
- Dr John Curnow, NSW Rural Doctors Association (Chair)
- Dr Ros Bullock, Elected GP
- Dr Lauren Cone, Elected GP
- Ms Christine Corby, Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council
- A/Prof John Kramer, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (NSW Faculty)
- Dr Costa Boyages, NSW Australian Medical Association
- Ms Jill Ludford, NSW Ministry of Health (Senior Executive)
- Dr Peter Finlayson, NSW Ministry of Health (Director of Medical Services)
The RDN is a public company limited by guarantee under the Australian Corporations Act 2001. Download the RDN Constitution (2015).
RDN receives core and project funding from the NSW Government Ministry of Health (MoH) through its Non-Government Organisation Program, and infrastructure and project funding from the Australian Government Department of Health (DoH). RDN also receives funds to deliver a wide range of health Outreach services across more than 120 rural NSW towns. Several rural local governments, community and industry organisations also contribute funding for RDN activities.
Since its beginnings as the Rural Doctors Resource Network (RDRN) in 1988, RDN has continued a history of innovations that have shaped NSW and national rural health programs and policy.
RDN was established as a Company Limited by Guarantee in 1998 by combining the structure of the RDRN, established in 1988, with some functions of the NSW Rural Divisions Coordinating Unit (RDCU), established in 1993.
RDN has expanded from a focus on locums and rurally-based Continuing Medical Education (CME) to include GP recruitment and retention, nursing and allied health recruitment and retention, Outreach services, GP locum service, support for families of rural medical and health practitioners, and rural NSW health workforce data services.
While RDN provides services and programs for rural health, its major strength is bringing together organisations to fill workforce gaps, provide a cohesive approach to health services, and innovate to expand access to healthcare for people living in remote, rural and regional NSW.
In 2018-19, RDN celebrates 25 years (with predecessor organisation RDRN).
Additional information about RDN’s history and the journey of rural health in NSW:
- The Rural Road Travelled - History and Achievements of the New South Wales Rural Doctors Network, November 2006 (ISBN 0-9581728-9-7)
- The 1987 NSW Rural Doctors’ Dispute -The Dispute that Changed the Face of Rural Medicine, November 2007 (ISBN 978-0-9803026-4-6).