Allied Health succession planning practices in Large Health District: A descriptive study

Ms Kate Vickers1,2, Dr. Nazlee Siddiqui2, Ms Sue  Colley1, Ms Leann Lancaster1

1South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, Australia, 2The Unviersity of Tasmania, Rozelle, Australia

Introduction: Succession planning (SP) is an effective strategy to manage workforce shortages and high staff turn-over. The SP process includes: strategic planning; desired skills and needs identification; development processes; mentoring and resources. In a large Local Health District, Allied Health (AH) has informal SP processes in place for workforce planning and development. This study aims to (1) evaluate if AH informal SP practices meet this process; (2) identify if AH staff perceive a district-wide SP program meets their needs.

Method: A descriptive qualitative design using focus group discussion was utilised for the study. Two groups of participants were sampled, which included drivers of SP (n = 9), that is AH managers and receivers of SP (n = 10), that is staff progressing their careers. Data was analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Strategic planning, desired skills identification and development processes were inconsistently informally implemented within the district. However, implementation was dependent on manager’s attitude and the availability of development opportunities which focused predominantly on managerial and leadership positions. Two areas that were viewed as inadequate were mentoring and resource allocation to support SP, particularly for highly specialised clinical positions. All participants demonstrated limited awareness and knowledge of the district-wide formal SP program. Receivers of SP, identified the program has potential to meet their development needs if the barriers above are well managed. Drivers of SP identified that there is lack of opportunity to translate the management skills learned in the district-wide program.

Conclusion: Current and desired AH SP practices reflect the recommended processes of SP. The perception is that the current district-wide formal SP program does not meet the needs of AH but has potential to do so. Development and maturing of informal SP processes needs to occur to reach district-wide consistency with a shift in focus towards highly-specialised clinical position.


Kate Vickers has been a speech pathologist for 15 years and is currently the Allied Health Workforce and Development Officer for South Western Sydney Local Health District. She has been in the Workforce and Development Officer role for over 5 years and in that time has focused on projects for workforce redesign, staff development and education. She is also undertaking a Masters of Health Management, specialising in organisational development.

NAHC Conferences

2007, Hobart (7th NAHC)

2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

2012, Canberra (9th NAHC)

2013, Brisbane (10th NAHC)

2015, Melbourne (11th NAHC)

2017, Sydney (12th NAHC)

2019, Brisbane (13th NAHC)

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Tourism & Events Queensland

© 2017 Conference Design Pty Ltd