Access to health services is being made a lot easier for people living in rural and remote areas of western NSW thanks to a team of GPs and allied health professionals.
Macquarie Health Collective in Dubbo services people as far away as Cobar, Lightning Ridge and beyond.
The merging of Macquarie Health Collective and Macquarie Valley Family Practice in 2019 allowed for psychologists, dietitians, and speech pathologists to work collaboratively to provide holistic health services in the region.
Director of Macquarie Health Collective Tanya Forster said initially her goal was to improve access to services for Dubbo and western NSW and provide collaborative services for families.
"I wanted to set something up where a team of health professionals really worked together, we know that optimises outcomes, so I wanted to make sure families could access the sorts of services found in the city," Ms Forster explained.
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The psychologists' dream was to then expand into the medical realm and fortunately last year was able to achieve that with seven GPs joining the Macquarie Health Collective team.
"It's really exciting, again it improves access for local families but it also means we have all of our providers working collaboratively together," Ms Forster said.
They have also just recently recruited their first medical specialist, a neurologist joining the team next month.
"Hopefully that's the first step in having lots more medical professionals join us so we can keep improving access. It's a really exciting development for the community," Ms Forster said.
The Macquarie Health Collective director said people travel up to four hours to see access their services, which is why they are aiming to strengthen the telehealth programs.
"Four hours one way is a very long trip and while they may need to do that sometimes and it's certainly better being able to travel to Dubbo then Sydney,. which adds another four hours, we would still like to minimise the travel, particularly for people on the land," Ms Forster explained.
"While we have had some recent rain, we're still in drought, so for these families being able to leave the farm and travel these distances to access services is not really an option."
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Ms Forster said many families in rural and region western NSW are doing it tough due to the drought and often find getting off-farm even for a day not always possible.
"So if that means they think they can't go and see their doctor or psychologists then that's a problem. We want to make sure we can find creative ways to removing those barriers for them," she explained.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018 Census, there were 3046 registered deaths of people who died due to intentional self-harm (suicide).
Ms Forster said they want to ensure those stats don't get any higher.
"So I think if we can be creative and use telehealth options then we're really making sure that we support the west... that currently has very little access to services," she said.
The Macquarie Health Collective director said she had many goals for 2020, but some of the main issues was continuing to improve access even further and increasing the variety of services on offer.
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