Review of the health, welfare and care workforce in Tasmania, Australia: 2011-2016
Background:On a per capita basis, rural communities are underserviced by health professionals when compared to metropolitan areas of Australia. However, most studies evaluating health workforce focus on discrete professional groups rather than the collective contribution of the range of health, care and welfare workers within communities. The objective of this study was therefore to illustrate a novel approach for evaluating the broader composition of the health, welfare and care (HWC) workforce in Tasmania, Australia, and its potential to inform the delivery of healthcare services within rural communities.
Methods: Census data (2011 and 2016) were obtained for all workers involved in health, welfare and care service provision in Tasmania and in each statistical level 4 area (SA4) of the state. Workers were grouped into seven categories: medicine, nursing, allied health, dentistry and oral health, health-other, welfare and carers. Data were aggregated for each category to obtain total headcount, total full time equivalent (FTE) positions and total annual hours of service per capita, with changes observed over the five-year period.
Results: All categories of the Tasmanian HWC workforce except welfare grew between 2011 and 2016. While this growth occurred in all SA4 regions across the state, the HWC workforce remained maldistributed, with more annual hours of service per capita provided in the Hobart area. Although the HWC workforce remained highly feminised, a move toward gender balance was observed in some categories, including medicine, dentistry and oral health, and carers. The HWC workforce also saw an increase in part-time workers across all categories.
Conclusions: Adopting a broad approach to health workforce planning can better reflect the reality of healthcare service delivery. For underserviced rural communities, recognising the diverse range of workers who can contribute to the provision of health, welfare and care services offers the opportunity to realise existing workforce capacity and explore how 'total care' may be delivered by different combinations of health, welfare and care workers.
Publication titleInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Department/SchoolSchool of Health Sciences
Place of publicationSwitzerland
Rights statementCopyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).