Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Allied health leadership in New South Wales: a study of perceptions and priorities of allied health leaders

Patricia Bradd A B D , Joanne Travaglia B and Andrew Hayen B C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Sutherland Hospital, Locked Mail Bag 21, Taren Point, NSW 2229, Australia.

B Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Building 10, Broadway, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia. Email: Joanne.Travaglia@uts.edu.au; andrew.hayen@uts.edu.au

C School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Australia, Samuels Building, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: Patricia.Bradd@health.nsw.gov.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16135
Submitted: 24 June 2016  Accepted: 17 February 2017   Published online: 30 March 2017

Abstract

Objective The aim of the present study was to investigate the opinions and perceptions of senior allied health (AH) leaders in relation to AH leadership, governance and organisation from an Australian public health perspective. The target group was the New South Wales (NSW) Health AH directors or advisors, the most senior public AH professionals in NSW.

Methods The study was conducted over a 6-month period in 2014–15 and comprised two parts: (1) data collection through a 46-question online survey that sought the views of AH leaders about the field of AH in NSW; and (2) two confirmatory focus groups with members of the NSW Health Allied Health Directors Committee.

Results The online questionnaire generated novel information about the field of AH in the public sector of NSW, including the current organisation, governance and culture of AH. Focus group participants explored key findings in greater depth, including the effects of AH on and value of AH to the health system as a whole, as well as the attributes and competencies required by AH leaders. Participants identified the need to build and grow their influence, to more clearly demonstrate AH’s contribution and to realign efforts towards more strategic issues influencing governance, performance, professional standards and advocacy. This entailed broadening the vision and scope of AH Directors as well as across discipline leaders.

Conclusion The results provide new information about Australian AH leadership, governance, culture and organisation, and highlight potential priorities for future leadership activities.

What is known about this topic? Although leadership is considered an essential element in the provision of high-quality health care, leadership across AH remains underexamined.

What does this paper add? There is a paucity of literature pertaining to AH leadership nationally and internationally. This paper describes the issues affecting AH leaders and leadership in NSW, as reported by senior AH leaders.

What are the implications for practitioners? This study identifies key elements related to AH leadership and governance. Health systems and services can use this information to implement strategies that enhance AH leadership capability.


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