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Evaluation of the Virtual Rural Generalist Service

Western NSW Local Health District and University of Sydney

Date Funded:
  • 1 February, 2021
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Professor Andrew Wilson
  • Dr. Shannon Nott

Project summary

Evaluation of the Virtual Rural Generalist Services (VRGS) as an effective, “COVID-19 resilient” model of care.

What is the issue for NSW?

Rural communities experience poorer health outcomes and struggle to recruit and retain a skilled medical workforce. COVID-19 is especially challenging for rural communities due to rural population vulnerabilities, workforce shortages, reliance on fly-in-fly-out workforce and limited ability to cope with a sudden influx of patients. In February 2020 the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) initiated a Virtual Rural Generalist Service (VRGS) to assist communities without a local GP / VMO or where fatigue support was required. This research will evaluate the impact and influence of the VRGS on workforce for rural communities in relation to providing a COVID-resilient solution.

What does the research aim to do and how?

The study aims to evaluate the Virtual Rural Generalist Service (VRGS) as a workforce solution for communities during COVID. The first stage of the project is a rapid review of the how the VRGS operated in WNSWLHD during the COVID-19 pandemic (between April and December 2020). The second stage is an evaluation of the roll-out of VRGS into two other rural Local Health Districts – Far West and Murrumbidgee.