Kendra Strong1, Ms Ilsa Nielsen2, Ms Renae Moore3, Ms Gemma Tuxworth1, Ms Susannah Lennox1, Ms Michelle Rothwell4
1Department Of Health, Tasmanian Government, Hobart, Australia, 2Department of Health, Queensland Health, Cairns, Australia, 3Top End Health Service, Northern Territory Government, Darwin, Australia, 4Cunningham Centre, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, Toowoomba , Australia
The Allied Health Rural Generalist (AHRG) Pathway aims to deliver better services for rural and remote communities and improve workforce sustainability. Implementation sites employ trainees in supportive, early career, designated training roles and implement service development strategies. System-level approaches to AHRG Pathway implementation are underway in public health services in Queensland, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
Four system-level strategies have been used to implement the AHRG Pathway:
- Supernumerary training positions funded and coordinated at organisation level (Queensland, Tasmania, Northern Territory).
- Centrally-administered funds for education fees (Queensland, Tasmania).
- Changes to human resources and industrial instruments to integrate rural generalist training and link progression to the development of rural capabilities (Queensland, commencing in Tasmania).
- Funding support packages provided through an agreement between health services and state department of health for an agreed number of training positions (Queensland).
Twenty-two supernumerary training positions were implemented and evaluated over trial periods in Queensland (2014-18), four in Northern Territory (2017-18) and eight in Tasmania (2018-20). Queensland Health identified the supernumerary funding model is effective in the jurisdictional ‘proof of concept’ phase, but provides diminishing returns and restricts growth beyond this stage. Education fee funding programs for existing staff have been underutilised or challenging to develop in all jurisdictions. Human resource and industrial integration of the pathway is regarded as critical, but requires further work to implement. Queensland’s newly-developed funding support package model enables greater local control over implementation processes and resources, and has doubled the number of training roles.
The various approaches of three state and territory governments to implementation of the AHRG Pathway demonstrates the need for systems to respond to regional challenges and opportunities. Further evaluation of implementation approaches will be critical to informing national development of the pathway and realising benefits for rural and remote services.
Kendra Strong is the Chief Allied Health Advisor at the Department of Health, Tasmania