SOUTHERN NSW Local Health District and Sapphire Coast Physiotherapy have received national attention for an innovative public-private partnership that is aimed at attracting the best physiotherapists to the NSW South Coast.
A presentation on the partnership at the recent Physiotherapy Business, Education and Leadership Symposium in Cairns was granted an award from the Australian Physiotherapy Association and Health Workforce Australia.
“In the past, both Southern NSW Local Health and local private physiotherapy practices, when acting alone, have experienced difficulties in attracting new physiotherapy graduates to the area,” SNSWLHD’s David Schmidt told the Bega District News.
“So Southern NSW Local Health District linked up with Sapphire Coast Physiotherapy in an informal public-private partnership that provided prospective employees with a more attractive working package than either would be able to offer individually.
“The result has been extraordinarily successful, and has ultimately resulted in national recognition at the recent physiotherapy symposium in Cairns.
“We have achieved something that, as far as we know, has not been previously done in Australia,” he said.
Mr Schmidt said the joint program is about to enter its third year, with two new physiotherapists - Stephanie Auston and Erin Thompson - working part time with Sapphire Coast Physiotherapy and part time with Southern NSW Local Health District from early 2015.
“Both have excellent academic records, both finished their university degrees near the top of their class, and both are very excited to be moving to the Bega Valley to live,” Mr Schmidt said.
“The two graduates who joined us a couple of years ago and pioneered the now-successful public-private arrangement with us are greatly valued local physiotherapists.
“Jack Murphy is working at Sapphire Coast Physiotherapy’s Bega clinic and at Bega and Pambula Hospitals, and Emma Freer is working at Sapphire Coast Physiotherapy’s Merimbula clinic and also at Bega and Pambula Hospitals.
“So their expertise is now directly benefitting four local communities from Bega to Eden,” he said.
“Our innovative public-private approach is now likely to be adopted elsewhere in Australia.”
“Together we found a way of overcoming a shortage of physiotherapists willing to work in the local area, while offering new graduates the professional things they were seeking such as a varied caseload, a broad pool of mentors, sound ongoing training, and a broad range of social and professional support.
“And, most importantly, this has now been confirmed to us by the number and very high quality of the physios who wanted to join the Sapphire Cost Physiotherapy and Southern NSW Health District teams from the start of next year.”
“What we have created is a win-win-win-win situation,” Mr Schmidt said.
“The public health system is a winner, private physiotherapy like that provided by Sapphire Coast Physiotherapy is a winner, patients requiring physiotherapy are definitely winners, and new graduate physiotherapists are winners.”