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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 16(1)

Evidence-informed primary health care workforce policy: are we asking the right questions?

Lucio Naccarella A C, Jim Buchan B, Peter Brooks A

A The Australian Health Workforce Institute, The University of Melbourne, Level 3, 766 Elizabeth Street, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.
B The Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU, Scotland.
C Corresponding author. Email: l.naccarella@unimelb.edu.au
 
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Abstract

Australia is facing a primary health care workforce shortage. To inform primary health care (PHC) workforce policy reforms, reflection is required on ways to strengthen the evidence base and its uptake into policy making. In 2008 the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute funded the Australian Health Workforce Institute to host Professor James Buchan, Queen Margaret University, UK, an expert in health services policy research and health workforce planning. Professor Buchan’s visit enabled over forty Australian PHC workforce mid-career and senior researchers and policy stakeholders to be involved in roundtable policy dialogue on issues influencing PHC workforce policy making. Six key thematic questions emerged. (1) What makes PHC workforce planning different? (2) Why does the PHC workforce need to be viewed in a global context? (3) What is the capacity of PHC workforce research? (4) What policy levers exist for PHC workforce planning? (5) What principles can guide PHC workforce planning? (6) What incentives exist to optimise the use of evidence in policy making? The emerging themes need to be discussed within the context of current PHC workforce policy reforms, which are focussed on increasing workforce supply (via education/training programs), changing the skill mix and extending the roles of health workers to meet patient needs. With the Australian government seeking to reform and strengthen the PHC workforce, key questions remain about ways to strengthen the PHC workforce evidence base and its uptake into PHC workforce policy making.

   
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