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Tēnā koutou Rural Hospital Chapter members of Hauora Taiwhenua

The Chapter has been meeting monthly discussing a number of issues as they relate to the health reforms and matters affecting rural hospitals as we navigate a re-surgent Omicron and deal with staffing shortages.  There are a few matters we would like to update you on:

Hospital and Specialist Operating Model Development
Te Whatu Ora are developing an operating model for Hospital and Specialist Services which will describe how these will be managed in the future under a regional and national model.  They have been going around the country with seminars to discuss their ideas with the sector.  We felt that a Rural Hospital perspective would be important. We want to gauge the level of interest from you if we were to organise a webinar on the topic dedicated to focus on the rural perspective. Can you please indicate your interest in joining such a webinar by responding to this poll.

Establishing a Rural Hospital Locum service
The Rural Hospital Summit 2020, advocated for a Rural Hospital Locum Service in line with the Rural General Practice Locum Recruitment service that RGPN held for over 20 years. Many of you went on to contribute to a proposal for such as service that was submitted to the then Ministry of Health in June 2021.

We are delighted to be able to tell you that our advocacy has been successful, and that Hauora Taiwhenua is in the final stages of agreeing a three-year contract with Te Whatu Ora for the establishment of a Rural Hospital Locum Service. The service will operate quite differently to the long standing Rural General Practice Locum Service Hauora Taiwhenua provides under its NZ Locum brand but will be able to leverage the systems and processes that NZ Locums have developed over many years.  While the Rural Hospitals will still have to pay for the doctors, they will not bear the costs of recruitment, transport, and orientation to working in the NZ Health System.

Once the contract has been finalised with a likely commencement date early in 2023, Hauora Taiwhenua will get to work to recruit a team to provide the service and set up the systems and processes to do so. This is likely to require several months so it will be a while before it can start working with Rural Hospitals to get the service underway.  We will keep you updated as this service develops.

Hauora Taiwhenua Prioritising and Planning Workshop– last week of March 2023
I hope many of you were able to attend the September National Rural Health Conference in Christchurch. Hauora Taiwhenua has recently published its key messages from the Conference in the Christchurch Consensus Document.  It was a great opportunity for us to get together and participate in a number of presentations and workshops and to connect again.

As these conferences have typically been run in the March/April period, it was decided that the next National Rural Health Conference will be return to that time of year in March/April 2024.  Also, many of you have participated in previous Rural Hospital Summits where we workshop on a national level what is important to Rural Hospitals and what priorities exist that should be highlighted with the Ministry of Health.  Now that we have transitioned into Hauora Taiwhenua where nine chapters are working together under the umbrella of a Council, it was felt that we needed to have a national strategic planning effort that brings all the chapters together.  For this reason, plans are under way to organise a workshop/planning exercise during the last week of March 2023.  The aim is to agree issues and priorities for each Chapter.  These will then be reviewed by the Hauora Taiwhenua Council and the Board and finalised in the first Hauora Taiwhenua Strategic Plan.  Please note that this event will be based on workshopping in groups, rather than in a conference format. All effort will be made to minimise the cost for participation.

We will provide further information about the working day as it becomes available.

If you have any queries regarding any of the items in this newsletter, or if you have ideas as to how we can better serve our rural hospital members please contact one of us (Kathy de Luc and Margareth Broodkoorn) or Marie Daly. We are working in a new structure and want to make sure the Rural Hospital Chapter is adding value to all the amazing work that is going on in our hospitals during this uncertain time.