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Health Workforce Queensland undertakes an annual primary care workforce needs assessment (HWNA) for remote and rural areas of Queensland classified as Modified Monash Model (MMM) 2-7 (2019). This report summarises the overall findings from the 2021 HWNA and builds on a baseline understanding of workforce needs established in previous HWNAs. The purpose of the HWNA is to identify priority locations with regards to health workforce, inform and prioritise the utilisation of Health Workforce Queensland resources, and inform outcomes to the Department of Health for program planning and policy development.
The online survey saw 681 health professionals and managers complete the survey and share their perceptions of workforce and service gaps in their communities of practice. Mean workforce and service gap ratings were found to be generally higher than 2020 and have gradually increased each year since the first HWNA survey in 2018. Psychology, speech pathology and occupational therapy workforces had the highest mean gap ratings and the most notable increases from 2020 were for speech pathology and occupational therapy. Health service gap ratings show mental health, community-based rehabilitation services and alcohol and other drugs services were once again the highest gap ratings. Comments provided by survey participants suggested better access to mental health, general practice and alcohol and other drug services is needed.
The health workforce overall continues to experience maldistribution with remote and rural areas more likely to experience workforce shortages. More policy enablers are required to increase the appeal and viability of rural general practice and primary care. Greater flexibility in service and workforce models for remote and rural is also required to attract and support capable and culturally responsive health professionals. Priorities could include shared funding models, changes to staffing levels and skill mix, delivery modality, and maximisation of multidisciplinary teams. There is also recognition of the importance of workforce support and training for a sustainable and quality rural and remote health system.
This report also identifies strategies to address key workforce issues that Health Workforce Queensland, in collaboration with others, can progress and work closer towards our mission of creating sustainable workforce solutions that meet the needs of remote, rural and regional and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
You can view the 2021 Health Workforce Needs Assessment below.