Optometrist, Stephen Copeland, is visiting patients in the Kimberley, nearly 3000 kms northeast of his Perth homebase.
Stephen and his medical specialist colleagues make more than 1000 trips a year, delivering care to remote and indigenous communities in West Australia.
The services they deliver are as diverse as the locations. Covering around thirty specialisations, they range from optometry to obstetrics, psychiatry to physiotherapy, paediatrics to geriatrics.
Rural Workforce Agencies coordinate Commonwealth funded outreach programs in WA, SA, NSW, NT and Victoria, bringing specialist care to rural and remote communities.
04 August 2022
No matter where you are
Rural & Remote Australia
Stephen Copeland and Kim Timms in Warmun
Stephen Copeland is funded to deliver care under the Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS), one of several programs aiming to improve health outcomes for people in rural, regional and remote locations. His clinics in far flung areas often include referrals to ophthalmologists, which he supports through telehealth appointments, where possible.
Outreach specialists diagnose, treat and follow up with patients, and they also provide personal and professional support to the GPs and frontline staff that are essential to rural and remote health.
Specialist services delivered in Aboriginal health services, medical clinics and district hospitals include:
Audiology, cardiology, chronic disease management, dermatology, dietetics, echocardiography, endocrinology, ENT, gastroenterology, geriatrics, gynaecology and obstetrics, hepatology, nephrology, occupational therapy, ophthalmology, optometry, paediatrics, palliative care, general physician, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychiatry, psychology, respiratory, rheumatology, speech pathology and surgery.
GP generalists and specialists also visit communities who would otherwise not have access to these services.
Dr Francis Lannigan, a Perth-based ENT surgeon, has been treating Aboriginal ear disease for more than 20 years. He was part of a team that flew to the state’s north, spending a week travelling through remote communities assessing and referring patients ahead of a ‘blitz’ of surgeries held the following week.
“Providing timely treatment, such as this surgical blitz, can help improve health outcomes for Aboriginal children, with flow-on effects to educational and employment outcomes,” he said.
(Surgery blitz all eyes and ears on regions – Rural Health Matters Spring 2021 edition: Rural Health West)
Rural Workforce Agencies (RWAs) managed outreach programs encompass:
Contact the following RWAs for details:
Find out more at www.ruralhealthwest.com.au/outreach