NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) workforce data is recognised in the health sector for its high quality, integrity, relevance and longevity.
The data is obtained from GPs and Practice Managers via RDN surveys and has proven invaluable; it has, amongst many things, helped inform recruitment and retention strategies and has been vital in publishing the NSW and Australian Minimum Data Set Report (MDS).
In 2017, publication of the MDS ceased and RDN secured long-term workforce planning contracts from the Australian Government, which include the development of a Primary Healthcare Workforce Needs Assessment.
RDN used the data collected through the GP Workforce Survey and Practice Manager Survey in 2017 to underpin the first phase of the Needs Assessment and provide a baseline to build upon for long-term rural Primary Healthcare Workforce planning.
This year, to gain greater insight into the wellbeing, capability, accessibility to allied health, and needs of the rural GP workforce, we will expand the process of collecting data by updating questions in all RDN surveys and delivering all surveys via a secure online survey platform.
How do the surveys benefit the rural health workforce?
Workforce data obtained by RDN to date has been used to positively contribute to primary healthcare in rural NSW by allowing RDN to:
- develop seven regional GP workforce plans complemented by high-priority town-based GP succession planning activities
- focus $3 million in Health Workforce Scholarship Program funds into the critical training and Continuing Professional Development areas identified by GPs and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, which were chronic disease management, mental health, cultural awareness and business and practice management
- invest in clinician self-care initiatives such as RDN’s drought web resource, #RuralHealthTogether
- establish RDN’s future GP leadership program, including the establishment of RDN’s early rural medical career advisory group
- highlight and enable action on critical areas of need specific to regions such as the Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) and proceduralist workforce, strategies for the International Medical Graduate (IMG) workforce and enhancing targeted locum placements
- highlight the importance of supporting the capability of health administrators to support better working environments.
Annual GP Workforce Survey
In 2018 RDN is moving into the next phase of the Needs Assessment to include baseline evaluation of access to allied health professional services, particularly in the management of chronic disease.
The GP Workforce Survey asks questions about rural GP workforce access to relevant allied health services for patient referral at the local level, and the barriers and challenges for GPs wishing to refer their patients to these services.
By making the new survey available online, RDN is also able to customise questions to suit individual circumstances to help collate evidence and identify trends to support important issues and implement Primary Healthcare Workforce planning activities.
RDN looks forward to the continued support of the annual GP Workforce Survey in 2018, which will continue to make a positive difference to primary healthcare in rural NSW.