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 Surveys 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.
In 2018, to gain greater insight into the wellbeing, capability, accessibility to allied health, and needs of the rural GP workforce, we expanded 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.
In 2018, RDN moved to the next phase of the Primary Healthcare Workforce Needs Assessment to include baseline evaluation of access to allied health professional services, particularly in the management of chronic disease. GPs and Practice Managers now have the opportunity to provide feedback on professional access to allied health services in their practice and local community.
By making the surveys 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.
Practice Manager Workforce Surveys
SURVEY OPEN: MID-NOVEMBER 2018 TO LATE JANUARY 2019
The Practice Manager Workforce Surveys are seeking targeted feedback from rural Practice Managers around a range of professional development offerings for administration staff engaged in practice management activities.
Annual GP Workforce Survey
SURVEY OPEN: END-SEPTEMBER TO MID-DECEMBER 2018
The GP Workforce Survey seekS feedback from rural GPs about the 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. We will also seek feedback on ways in which RDN can support health professional well-being.
RDN looks forward to the continued support of our annual surveys in 2018, which will continue to make a positive difference to primary healthcare in rural NSW.