Tautoko Rural boosts support for rural practices and hospitals through Covid-19

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network’s new Tautoko Rural initiative will provide rural practices and community owned rural hospitals with support to conquer COVID-19 outbreaks in their communities. 

With the peak of the Omicron outbreak at our doorsteps, rural general practices and hospitals are at risk of closure or having to significantly reduce services if their staff need to isolate due to COVID-19.

Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson says, “We surveyed rural practices and hospitals for their greatest concerns as Omicron circulates in the community.

“Overwhelmingly, the message was that their community’s health would be compromised if any of their staff went down sick.”

“We are so pleased to announce that the Ministry reacted positively to this message by funding this new initiative,” Dr Davidson says.

The Tautoko Rural initiative will help fill short-term staffing gaps in rural practices and hospitals due to COVID-19 illness, isolation requirements or work stressors caused by managing COVID-19.

Replacing the Pandemic Emergency Roving Locums (PERL) initiative, this funding is available to all roles that support the healthcare response including clinical, non-clinical, administration and support staff, as well as cleaning and kitchen staff.

To source people available to support our Tautoko Rural initiative, the Hauora Taiwhenua was granted access to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Hands Up Database, in which people across New Zealand registered to offer assistance earlier on in the pandemic.

The aim of this initiative is to match practices and hospitals that apply for support with suitable people from our Tautoko Rural Database for the roles that are required.

Through the Tautoko Rural initiative, Hauora Taiwhenua and Ministry of Health acknowledge that rural practices and hospitals are under immense pressure to manage COVID-19 in their communities.

Dr Davidson says, “We believe this will provide some hope and support to practices with fatigued and stressed staff that have been up against it for long periods of time already.”