Comprehensive community general practice, coupled with emergency management is the heart that will keep rural generalism alive
Comprehensive community general practice, coupled with emergency management, is the heart that will keep rural generalism alive
I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Western Australia meeting with GPs, government officials and experts in rural and remote health.
It is apparent that comprehensive community general practice, coupled with emergency management is the heart that will keep rural generalism alive. This was evident during my visit. The leadership of GPs such as Dr Michael Mears in Esperance and Dr Michael Livingston in Ravensthorpe demonstrated how rural generalism is thriving.
I met Dr Mears and 11 of his colleagues, early one morning. This group of 12 GPs, representing a number of local GP clinics, provide comprehensive primary care, as well as emergency medicine, anaesthetic, obstetrics and surgical services. They shared with me their collaborative model for addressing patient need within their community. They are outstanding educators and are committed to supporting the next generation of rural GPs. I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the RACGP’s vision for general practice and to hear their ideas for the future of rural generalism.
I was also privileged to meet with Dr Michael Livingston at his practice in Ravensthorpe. His practice supports a community of 2000 people and he is a passionate rural generalist. His approach to comprehensive patient care is leading to outstanding health outcomes. It was also great to meet with his wife and family. The commitment and sacrifice they offer to the community of Ravensthorpe is remarkable. Michael shared with me his concerns about the viability of general practice in rural WA communities and the impact on patient care from a lack of integration between Commonwealth and State governments. Michael has many ideas for enhancing the sustainability of general practice in rural and remote Australia.
When I am next in Canberra, I intend to speak to the issues and ideas shared with me in Esperance and Ravensthorpe. I am keen to ensure that MPs and government officials hear and act upon the voice of grassroots GPs.
The visit to WA gave me the opportunity to meet with leaders and rural health experts at a number of relevant agencies including WAGPET, WA Department of Health, WACHS, Rural Health West, the AMA, Rural Clinical School of WA and the WA Primary Health Alliance. I was briefed on the challenges of recruiting health professionals to work in rural WA and how communities thrive when there is continuity of care from a GP.
It was good to receive an update on the efforts of many to provide medical students, junior doctors and registrars with fantastic education and training experiences. Rural and remote WA is a wonderful place to learn how to become a great GP.
I have returned from my trip, energised about rural general practice and inspired by my colleagues in WA.
I extend my appreciation to Adj Professor Janice Bell and her team at WAGPET for arranging the visit. I also wish to acknowledge the following individuals who meet with me and shared their expert knowledge on rural health care in Western Australia.
Photo 1: Dr Michael Livingston and family in Ravensthorpe, Western Australia
Photo 2: Dr Mears and colleagues in Esperance, Western Australia
Dr Ayman Shenouda