Allied health staff perceptions of workforce staffing models across seven days and after-hours in a major metropolitan health service

Dr Paula Harding1, Associate Professor Lisa Somerville1, Dr Marnie Graco1,2

1Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia, 2Institute for Breathing and Sleep, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia

Hospital admissions on the weekend are associated with poorer patient outcomes. Casualisation of the weekend workforce and reduced access to Allied Health (AH) services may contribute to this phenomenon. Alternate AH staffing models have been proposed. This study explored the perceptions of AH staff regarding weekend and after-hour staffing models.

Mixed-methods study including descriptive and thematic analysis of survey and focus group data. Participants were AH staff and stakeholders from one major Victorian public health service.

160 staff (21%) completed the online survey. Three focus groups (16 participants) were conducted. Most AH disciplines used a casual staffing model on weekends. Most survey respondents (79%) thought a staffing model across seven days would improve outcomes. In the focus groups, staff reported that the existing weekend staffing model was inadequate and could be optimised by weekday staff working across seven days. For weekday AH staff to work across seven days, they emphasised the importance of adequate planning and flexibility to enable a healthy work/life balance.

AH staff and stakeholders were dissatisfied with the casual AH workforce model on weekends. Sustainable AH staffing models across seven days are becoming increasingly important as healthcare resources become strained due to increasing demands


Paula Harding is a Physiotherapist with over 25 years of working in the private and public health sector. She completed a Masters of Manipulative Physiotherapy at LaTrobe University in 2000, and a Clinical Doctorate of Physiotherapy in 2012 at The University of Melbourne. Her current position is the Allied Health Workforce Manager for Alfred Health and responsibilities include developing an allied health workforce that is sustainable and meets the changing needs of the healthcare environment

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