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Bond University & Gold Coast Health Joins Forces to Plan For the Future

Bond University students are joining forces with Gold Coast Health to launch an exciting initiative that will significantly enhance the region’s capacity to plan and develop its future health workforce.

The ‘Health Workforce Project’ is an Australian first and will involve collaboration between private and public health services, acute hospitals, general practices, primary health care and aged care services.

A motivated team of undergraduate Business and MBA students from Bond University has embraced the challenge to profile the existing health workforce on the Gold Coast and develop a snapshot of the future workforce requirements over a five-year timeframe.

Professor Ben Shaw from Bond University will supervise the student project team who he says will be involved in everything from finalising the survey design and conducting interviews, to data analysis and report preparation.

“The students will be responsible for collecting data on the current and future demand of health care professionals in a number of occupational categories and will be speaking with local health care Managers about the factors they consider to be affecting their supply of employees,” Professor Shaw said.

“They will also be analysing literature on global ‘best practice’ in the recruitment, motivation and retention of a health workforce,” he said.

Professor Shaw said news headlines of late made it clear that the likely shortage of health care employees on the Gold Coast is a critical issue for the region’s health services, and said it will continue to be over the next decade.

“CEOs of Gold Coast health organisations have recognised the need to take a long term, collaborative approach to their workforce needs, including more innovative recruitment, education and retention strategies to source and keep valued employees,” Professor Shaw said.

“The demand for high quality health care professionals is great, and the supply simply isn’t meeting that demand. It makes sense for the various health agencies to collaborate on solutions to the workforce problem, rather than simply compete in what is already an inadequate labour market.

“The Health Workforce Project is a step in the right direction towards gaining understanding of the workforce imperatives in the region’s health care industry and establishing the necessary collaboration between all players,” Professor Shaw said.

CEO of John Flynn Hospital Lloyd Hill agreed it was a time for action, saying the increasing demand for services from Gold Coast Health Providers would only continue as the population increases and ages.

“Based on current trends, we predict difficulties in recruiting staff in many specialty areas in the future,” Mr Hill said.

“The Health Workforce Project is essential for helping us understand our current staffing profile and where the gaps are likely in the future.

“For example, we know nationally that midwives in Australia on average are over 45 and there are not many younger staff entering this specialty area. The study will confirm our local situation in this and other specialty areas.

“We can then plan and work with Bond University and other education providers to train staff in specific areas,” Mr Hill said.

District Manager of the Gold Coast Health Service District Mr Jeff Hollywood said recent Emergency Department staffing issues were evidence of the need for workforce planning.

"Partnering with universities is vital to the creation of a relevant and productive health workforce."

"Examining reform in the structure of the future workforce is also a key factor," Mr Hollywood said.

Bond University , together with Gold Coast Health, will host a cocktail function at the Bond’s new Health Sciences and Medicine building tomorrow (Thursday) night to officially launch the project.

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