Support needs of rural and remote clinicians providing non-critical emergency care in Queensland

Pauline Calleja 1, Leeanne Trenning2

1 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD,

2 Retrieval Services Queensland, 125 Kedron Park Road, Kedron, QLD,


Background: To identify support needs of emergency clinicians outside of metropolitan areas. In rural and remote areas, healthcare is provided with minimal resources and support, and is complicated by large, isolated geographical areas with a population who have generally poorer health outcomes. Despite this there is a paucity of published research focussing on issues that impact on delivery of rural and remote emergency care. In spite of this, in Queensland, Australia, service models have been developed and implemented to support clinicians based on anecdotal evidence or single case outcomes.

Method: Semi- structured interviews have been chosen because in-depth interviews focus on the experience of the person being interviewed (Liamputtong & Ezzy, 2005), that is, understanding the experience and perception of clinicians in rural and remote regions’ and their support needs. Clinicians in rural and remote areas are also usually poorly resourced, so while focus groups were considered, in most instances would not be possible due to staffing. Interviews will be conducted face to face. Context is likely to have an impact on conducting the interview (e.g. the need for flexibility due to vagaries in telecommunication functioning remote areas, local emergencies and unexpected activity and social norms). People in isolated locations value interaction face to face, this may be due to geographical and social isolation and how often they are forced to interact remotely in order to access services or seek assistance.

Current Progress: Currently recruiting HHS and participants.

Discussion: This research does not appear to have been conducted in Australia or internationally, despite the quite advanced foray into sophisticated service models that provide support for rural and remote clinicians. The issues associated with accessing timely and adequate care have been a recent focus in Government, who have responded with the advent of new support services such as TEMSU and telehealth services in rural and remote areas. Since support needs of clinicians has not been known, service models have been based on anecdotal evidence identified by critical incidents and poor patient outcomes. The purpose of this research is to identify what support nursing and medical clinicians feel is needed and then use this as a basis for evaluating, planning and shaping future and current services supporting rural and remote emergency practitioners in Queensland, and augment other measures of patient safety, care, effectiveness and efficiency. This is significant in underpinning strategies to engage clinicians in the use of telehealth, a factor in the current slower than hoped for uptake of telehealth services in Queensland. There is a potential for impact in a number of areas from this research and may positively impact on:

  • current service provision
  • clinical workforces in rural and remote areas
  • residents of rural and remote areas
  • health-care costs relating to urgent patient retrieval, services/processes required to reduce patient deterioration and staff turnover.

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