Rural and Remote Medical Services
RDN established Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd (RaRMS) as a not-for-profit organisation to overcome a multitude of barriers in remote communities that were experiencing a chronic shortage of GPs and which had reached crisis point. The innovative Easy Entry, Gracious Exit model of medical service provision evolved as a successful approach, initially in Walgett and Lightning Ridge. The primary objective was to improve health outcomes in these towns, initially by increasing the number of GPs and thereby improving medical services.
The Easy Entry, Gracious Exit model or 'walk in, walk out' approach, originally developed by RDN and since implemented by RaRMS, aims to make general practice in these difficult areas more attractive by enabling GPs to work as clinicians without having to be small business owners and managers. The model provides GPs with more predictable, less onerous work commitments and removes the need for any significant up-front financial investment on their part. RaRMS provides a complete, professional and fully managed general practice support service for its clinicians and the communities it serves, including provision of consulting rooms, quality practice nursing and administrative support, robust IT systems, well maintained medical equipment, clinical governance systems to support clinicians, support for GPs when negotiating VMO rights with Local Health Districts, locum GP/VMO support to ensure clinicians are able to take leave for CPD and recreation, and facilitation of visiting allied health support services. RaRMS is committed to quality modern general practice and ensures all of its medical centres maintain accreditation against the RACGP standards for general practice.
Since 2001 RaRMS has succeeded in attracting and retaining doctors in rural and remote NSW, and in facilitating a greatly expanded range of medical, nursing and allied health services available from its surgeries. RaRMS achieved its goal of full financial sustainability by the time Federal Government funding support phased out in mid 2006. There are indications that the improved medical services in RaRMS-supported towns has reduced hospital inpatient and outpatient presentations.
In recent years the number of communities assisted by RaRMS has grown considerably, especially in the remote north west of the state. In addition, RaRMS continues discussing possible involvement in a number of other rural and remote NSW communities. For an account of the RaRMS early experiences in Walgett and Lightning Ridge, including some useful practical resources, download the Easy Entry, Gracious Exit booklet.