State News

Medical Workforce Plan sets a collaborative course

A new roadmap which brings together health partners from the acute and primary health and tertiary education spaces has been released, plotting the way forward in securing a sustainable regional and rural medical workforce in Northern NSW.

The Northern NSW Medical Workforce Plan 2020-2026 presents a holistic view of how primary health, regional training and the hospital system can work together to identify and plan for the health needs of the region, specifically the medical workforce which will be needed in years to come.

Professor Ross Bailie, Director, University Centre for Rural Health, said giving junior doctors a clear pathway for rural and regional training placements was key to securing their interest in working regionally in the longer term.

“Increased training opportunities should enable early career doctors to stay and work in rural areas without the need to return to metropolitan-based teaching hospitals to further their training,” Prof Bailie said.

“It is vital that the training opportunities in rural and remote Australia are in the areas where there’s going to be a future need, and this plan helps us determine where those needs will be.”

The plan is the result of a collaboration between the Northern NSW Regional Training Hub – Lismore (The University of Sydney), the Clarence Valley Training Hub (University of Wollongong), the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) and North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN).

“Rural training and career opportunities are an essential stepping-stone to having a strong health workforce,” NNSWLHD Chief Executive, Wayne Jones said.

“Attracting early career doctors to stay and work in rural areas also relies on having comprehensive training available outside metropolitan centres.”

“We’re already making inroads, but this strategic planning and analysis highlights how important it is to work together in having a sustainable medical workforce for our communities.”

The plan builds on the available medical placements and training in the Richmond and Clarence Valleys to provide a basis for a framework to develop the medical workforce over the next seven years, taking into account population growth to determine future medical workforce needs to 2026.