A framework and approach to assess; access, quality and sustainability of the primary health nursing and midwifery workforce in rural, remote and regional NSW

Bernadette Gotch1

1NSW Rural Doctors Network


The purpose of the presentation is to present an approach and framework NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) has embedded to assess; access, quality and sustainability of the primary health nursing and midwifery workforce.  RDN is the designated Rural Workforce Agency for health in NSW whose aim is to ensure the highest possible standard of healthcare is provided to rural and remote communities through the provision of a highly skilled health workforce. The Department of Health funds RDN to undertake Rural Health Workforce Support Activities.  A primary objective is to contribute to addressing health workforce shortages and maldistribution in rural and remote NSW.  Underpinning this activity is an evidence-based Health Workforce Needs Assessment methodology. In its third year, Primary health nursing and midwifery workforce is to be integrated into the general practitioner and allied health workforce needs assessments.  The expected outcomes of this work is to meet current and future community primary health workforce requirements through workforce planning by identification of needs and undertaking initiatives in three priority areas;

  • Access – improving access and continuity of access to essential primary health care
  • Quality of access – building health workforce capability and
  • Future Planning – growing the sustainability of the health workforce.

RDN has embedded a framework and regionally facilitated engagement approach; encompassing latest evidence, policy, initiatives and drivers to enable both quantitative and qualitative capture of the current workforce distribution and to identify issues, gaps, solutions and opportunities for the nursing and midwifery sector to meet the health needs of rural and remote communities.  RDN welcomes feedback from the sector on the proposed approach and utility of the framework for the nursing and midwifery sector in rural and remote communities.


Bernadette Gotch is the Director of Service Delivery for NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN). Her passion for the delivery of health care began more than 25 years ago and since then she has undertaken many key senior executive roles across private, public and  government organisations. Before working at RDN, Bernadette was the General Manager of Customer Operations at the NRMA. Prior to this role, she was responsible for Assistance Services across Australasia at International SOS, the world’s largest medical and security assistance company.  Bernadette holds a Bachelor of Nursing, and a Grad Certificate in Intensive Care. After which she has studied Psychology/Law and is currently completing her Masters of Law at the University of NSW. After receiving the International SOS future leaders award in 2013, she was offered a scholarship to attend Harvard University, Executive Leadership Course on two separate occasions. Bernadette is an effective, high energy leader who enables an inclusive and collaborative work environment that leads to positive outcomes for those she supports.