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Rural Workforce Agency NT striving to address NT Health workforce challenges

Rural Workforce Agency NT striving to address NT Health workforce challenges

Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NT PHN), incorporating Rural Workforce Agency NT, has made some significant progress in recruiting and retaining primary health care professionals to the Territory over the past 12 months.

The NT PHN Rural Workforce Agency NT team plays an important role in recruiting and retaining primary health care professionals across the Territory.

In the 2020/21 year, the team recruited 92 permanent staff to the Territory with 51 of those based in remote locations. Additionally, 1855 days of GP locum cover were provided.

Acting Workforce Executive Manager, Mr Paul Connolly, said “We are lucky to have a highly experienced recruitment team who work hard to build positive relationships across the primary health care sector so they can support a broad range of organisations delivering frontline health services. There are many challenges in recruiting to the Territory – in particular to remote locations however, we are working to overcome those and having some success. Our approach includes highlighting the unique healthcare experiences available here, as well as the opportunity to make a difference in the community.

One of the most critical programs managed through Rural Workforce Agency NT is the Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICD) – focused on increasing access to health services in remote NT and on the prevention, detection and treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes. In the 2020/21 year, 1402 visits were coordinated, providing care to over 10,000 remote residents.

In addition to working closely with health services to recruit professionals, NT PHN incorporating Rural Workforce Agency NT, provides a range of funding to help retain and upskill those health professionals. In the last year, this included over $2 million in grants to the primary sector through:
• Scholarship funding ($455 000)
• Workforce development grants ($595 000)
• Recruitment support ($250 000)
• Workforce incentive program (over $1 million).

Nine Territory-based GPs also achieved fellowship during this period under RWA NT’s training programs. Overall, 102 professional development events were offered to primary health care professionals. Mr Connolly said, “With COVID, we’ve had to be agile and re-think the way we deliver our ongoing training programs. Over the past year, that meant we switched to providing 50% of them online allowing Territory health professionals to maintain their professional development, despite the restrictions in place at various times throughout the year.

As is the case for regional and remote communities across Australia, there are many workforce challenges to be addressed for the NT as we continue to respond to the pandemic. There is also an increasing demand for workforce to support initiatives such as the vaccine rollout program and the NT’s quarantine facilities.

Workforce mobility is limited nationally and therefore we need to be innovative in how we meet these demands. Rural Workforce Agency NT will be working hard in the coming year to continue to support the sector through these challenges.

We encourage any Territory primary health care services who need workforce support to connect with us,”
Mr Connolly said.

More information on the work that the Rural Workforce Agency provides is available at:
Northern Territory PHN (ntphn.org.au)

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Media contact:
NT PHN Cassandra Buckley Ph: 0448 800 438

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