Context: A small, isolated community in the south east of Australia, Malacoota, had a long-standing concern about the adequacy of their emergency medical systems. There was no hospital, the local medical practitioners were under stress and their ambulance services were limited. Following an approach through the local Division of General Practice in August 2002, the School of Rural Health at Monash University was invited to assist. Issues: A policy development toolkit was used to improve the rural urgent care systems through engagement with community members. The process involved community consultation, a meeting of key stakeholders, and the formation of a representative Steering Committee to oversee the local management of the project. Project officers worked with a university facilitator and other stakeholders to implement the Transforming Rural Urgent Care Systems (TrUCs) process from August'2002 to June'2003. A proposal of recommendations was put to the Victorian State Minister of Health and this was accompanied by a degree of political action. The submission raised the issues of poor interstate communications, ambulance staffing, support for medical practitioners, facilities for the stabilisation of patients, and access to air ambulance services. Funding was obtained for the implementation of a community paramedic model. Ambulance service communications systems improved and an innovative model of ambulance service delivery for isolated communities was implemented. Lessons: A number of lessons have been identified, including the crucial role of the project officers, and communication within the community and among specific stakeholders. The approach used could be adopted in other rural locations hoping to improve their emergency health services.
|Number of pages||1|
|Journal||Rural and Remote Health|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|