Although Australia has plenty of doctors, they are not well distributed according to local need. Currently the capability to measure and analyse the health service needs of a community, and apply the right resources to improve workforce distribution is limited.
Under the Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy, the new Health Demand and Supply Utilisation Patterns Planning (HeaDS UPP) Tool will, for the first time, bring together data on how the community uses health services and the health workforce.
The HeaDS UPP Tool will provide a single, integrated quality source of health workforce and services data to inform workforce planning and analysis for government and key health workforce planning stakeholders.
The Tool will map health workforce and services data according to 829 newly created GP Catchment areas based on factors such as patient flows, health workforce, rurality, topography, and accessibility.
It will reflect where people live, where they access health services, and where health practitioners are, or are not, providing those services. This will make it easier to measure and analyse the health services needs of a community, the workforce required to meet that need, and identify the gaps that are current in the health workforce.
The Tool will be available for use by approved local, regional, state, territory, and national workforce planners to inform policy development and program decisions around where workforce and services are needed.
Health workforce planners, some of which are members of the National Rural Health Alliance, will be included during the development of the Tool to ensure it is relevant to their requirements.
Once launched the Tool will allow and encourage collaboration across parts of the health system. Health workforce planners, once approved to use the Tool, will be able to focus visually on a mapped geographical region to view health workforce and service usage information about that area.
This will result in an increased capability to measure and analyse the health service needs of a community to develop evidence based health workforce planning policies and programs.
By delivering equitable distribution of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals where they are needed will result in improved access to services for patients, especially in areas of need, such as rural and regional locations.
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