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RDN’s Outreach Program celebrates two million patient consultations


17th July 2023

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) is celebrating the two millionth patient consultation (‘Occasion of Service’) to rural and remote NSW and the ACT under the Outreach program. This federally funded program was formed to reduce the healthcare access barriers facing rural and remote communities, due to distance and cost of travel to major centres. It brings essential health services to the regions by supporting visiting medical practitioners, such as specialists, nurses, midwifes, allied health and Aboriginal Health Practitioners. Currently in NSW, one patient is seen every four minutes under Outreach. 

John Curotta at Durri

The program is administered in NSW and the ACT by RDN, working closely with local organisations. It has facilitated a wide range of health providers travelling to over 200 towns and Aboriginal communities, and RDN has collaborated with over 60 partners since the program’s inception in 2003. 

RDN CEO Richard Colbran says that the program has improved the health of many thousands of people in the bush.

 

“We’re proud to reach this remarkable milestone, made possible by the dedication of our more than 850 clinicians who provide healthcare for people who would otherwise have to travel long distances to see medical practitioners,” he said.  

 

For over 20 years Outreach has been serving rural communities.

“We are always conscious of helping to close the gap on Aboriginal health and are very pleased that around two thirds of these 2 million consultations have been with Aboriginal people, most of them provided through local Aboriginal Community Controlled health services.” 

RDN uses a unique decentralised model for Outreach, enabling some of the best results nationwide, creating sustainable access and service and workforce distribution enablers for communities.It is a unique program that has enabled improved long-term health outcomes for some of the most disadvantaged communities.  

Raised in rural Victoria and now based in Sydney, Dr Richard Cranswick is a cardiologist who for over 20 years has been travelling to remote towns like Lightning Ridge through the Outreach program. 

 

“I am dedicated to doing what I can to bring the best level of healthcare for patients in disadvantaged areas, particularly in Aboriginal communities, to help close the gap in health outcomes.” 

“The Federal Government funding through RDN makes it possible for me to keep regularly visiting patients in towns like Forbes and small Aboriginal communities where expensive equipment to conduct tests like an ECG just isn’t available. Through Outreach, I can bring city standards of testing and care to people in the bush.” 

Diabetes management practitioner Annabel Thurlow has been an Outreach provider for more than ten years and is passionate about assisting people to manage their diabetes and help prevent complications. 

“Offering diabetes management to people in rural communities via the Outreach program is so rewarding on both a professional and personal level as many of the people I see are disadvantaged compared to their peers in the city who can more easily access the healthcare they need.” 

 

“I get great satisfaction from helping people manage their diabetes and getting to know them and travelling to lovely rural landscapes where they live is good for my soul too.” 

Delegates at the Annual Regional Western NSW Review of Outreach Services in 2022

 

 

 

For many people in remote areas across the state, even access to an optometrist can be difficult and Kyri Mavrolefteros has been travelling regularly to see patients in places like Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, and Cobar for 20 years – and he intends doing so for many more. 

“I feel privileged to be able to help people with vision problems in the little villages and remote Aboriginal communities where I can also discover causes of vision problems like diabetes that would likely go untreated if Outreach didn’t help me to see patients close to their homes.” 

 

Delegates at the Annual Regional Western NSW Review of Outreach Services in 2022

 

“Improving peoples’ vision can help with schooling, self-esteem and whole quality of life, so it’s a very rewarding thing to do. I’ll never forget the smiles on two young Aboriginal girls’ faces when they got their new glasses and they’ve since told me it had changed their lives.” 

 

KEY STATISTICS & FACTS ABOUT OUTREACH

  

  • 2 million consultations (Occasions of Service)

  • 1,200 unique outreach services

  • 214 towns across NSW & ACT 

  • 850 specialist and allied health professionals (delivering services this year) 

  • 57% of Outreach patients are Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islanders 

  • In a recent survey 44% of patients waited less than a month between referral and seeing a specialist 

  • 62% of patients didn’t get charged a fee for their consultations

  • 90% reported that the quality of treatment and care they received was either good or very good

  • 54% of patients drive less than 15 minutes to access the healthcare they need 

  • 40% increase in the range of services Outreach provides 

  • Since 2008, RDN has provided 752 upskilling services to local health practitioners in fields including eye and ear health, diabetes, cardiology, and dermatology

  • 90% of practitioners say they were satisfied or very satisfied with the Outreach Programs 

  • Over 50% of practitioners said they intend to continue providing Outreach services for at least the next five years or more

                             

RDN congratulates the Outreach team and its partners on this huge milestone accomplishment, and gives thanks for their ongoing commitment to facilitating and delivering, exceptional quality healthcare to rural and remote communities.  


RELATED:

Two million reasons to celebrate Outreach, but what is it? (Health Interpreter Podcast)

 

 

 

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