Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network is committed to listening, questioning, and having conversations about issues that impact on the health and wellbeing of rural health and rural communities.
Through our Chapters and their representatives on Council, we identify key issues, source data and information.
Together, we have established a reputation for being a credible, solution focused voice of rural health. This provides a strong platform for discussions with Government and the Ministry of Health, Immigration, and Business Innovation and Employment. It enables us to take a broad and inclusive view of health and wellbeing in rural communities to health sector advisory groups and committees, government working groups. We are often invited to cast a rural lens across Government initiatives or make submissions on policy or decisions that impact on rural communities.
In July, I told you about my secondment from Hauora Taiwhenua to Te Whatu Ora to co-design a rural telehealth afterhours service that could be operational at the earliest opportunity.
Since then, we have discussed this with around 50% of our rural general practices and many of our rural hospitals to ensure that the service reflects important aspects and endeavours to address barriers to the service, such as how it can be available for people who are not registered with a general practice or who do not have good internet connectivity.
We also established a steering group that included St John, telehealth service providers, and PRIME to provide an oversight of the proposal and endorse the final product.
The proposal was approved by both Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora at the end of September, and they are now leading a procurement process for the contributing services.
The primary aim of the service will be to provide as many rural communities with the opportunity to access telehealth afterhours clinical services including GP consultations and have these linked back to their own general practice at the same cost as day-time consultations.
We are optimistic that we will hear soon from Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora about when the service will be available for rural general practices to sign up and make it available to their registered patients.
I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this work. It has been an absolute privilege to work in partnership with Te Whatu or and Te Aka Whai Ora to ensure that this service has been developed by rural people and will fit into the rural context in which we live and work. Thank you again for your invaluable help.
This will mean that Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora will need to develop a specific rural health plan and be measured against outcomes against the plan.
We have negotiated an increase in PRIME funding for those practices with PRIME contracts to be paid for medical emergencies for the first time ever.
We have contributed to the writing of the rural section of the Interim Health Plan.
The Interim Health Plan will have a commitment to a complete review of PRIME and afterhours care / contracts to make it fit-for-purpose and sustainable going forward.
We are currently working with Te Whatu Ora to build a rural after-hours and emergency telehealth system which will help reduce the burden on the understaffed rural workforce
We have negotiated funding for our Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme to tour rural schools and kura Kaupapa to promote rural health careers to young people in those schools.
We are currently working on a rural workforce plan (co-designed by the sector) that we will be advocating for with the Minister and the Health Agencies to implement.