Objective. To review international experience in order to inform Australian PHC workforce policy on the role of primary healthcare organisations (PHCOs/Medicare Locals) in PHC workforce planning. Method. A NZ and UK study tour was conducted by the lead author, involving 29 key informant interviews with regard to PHCOs roles and the effect on PHC workforce planning. Interviews were audio-taped with consent, transcribed and analysed thematically. Results. Emerging themes included: workforce planning is a complex, dynamic, iterative process and key criteria exist for doing workforce planning well; PHCOs lacked a PHC workforce policy framework to do workforce planning; PHCOs lacked authority, power and appropriate funding to do workforce planning; there is a need to align workforce planning with service planning; and a PHC Workforce Planning and Development Benchmarking Database is essential for local planning and evaluating workforce reforms. Conclusion. With the Australian government promoting the role of PHCOs in health system reform, reflections from abroad highlight the key action within PHC and PHCOs required to optimise PHC workforce planning. © 2011 AHHA
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