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, the 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. The summary report of the 2017 Needs Assessment is available here.
Data collected through the 2019 GP and Practice Manager surveys will be used to inform an integrated GP, Allied Health, Primary Care Nursing Needs Assessment. Data will also be collected to gain greater insight into the workforce support needs of Practice Managers in securing sustainable primary healthcare practices.
In 2019 all workforce surveys will be delivered 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 the 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
The Practice Manager Workforce Surveys are seeking targeted feedback from rural Practice Managers and urban AMS Practice Managers about GPs, doctors in training, allied health, and primary care nurse staffing levels in the practices they manage. RDN is also seeking Practice Manager perspectives on health service needs in their community and professional support opportunities for Practice Managers.
Annual GP Workforce Survey
SURVEY WILL OPEN: END-SEPTEMBER TO MID-DECEMBER 2019
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 wellbeing.
RDN looks forward to the continued support of our annual surveys in 2019, which will continue to make a positive difference to primary healthcare in rural NSW.