A virtual care model for rural and remote areas pioneered in Dubbo could be expanded to other parts of the state, NSW health minister Ryan Park says.
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In his first visit to Dubbo as minister on Wednesday, May 17 Mr Park took a tour of the Dubbo Virtual Care Hub (vCare) - where a team of clinicians from the Western NSW Local Health District provide 24/7 virtual support to patients.
"It's fantastic to be out here at Dubbo inspecting and having a look at the state of the art technology that delivers healthcare to rural, remote and regional communities right across far western NSW," Mr Park told reporters on Wednesday.
"This is an area that I am very, very passionate about.
"In fact, it was an area that I spoke with the secretary Susan Pierce about very early on when I was elected about how we upscale and expand and accelerate what we do in virtual care to make sure [we] deliver the best healthcare to the right place at the right time through the right means."
Mr Park said visiting the vCare hub was an opportunity to see firsthand how the Dubbo-based team provides specialist or post specialist care, clinical support and advice, patient transport and virtual monitoring to patients across western NSW.
"This is an opportunity to see firsthand how this technology works and also to get some assurances from clinicians and operators here on the ground that this is working, that it is supporting patients and nurses and GPs, and supporting communities," he said.
"This is not about reducing people on the ground, it's actually about supporting and enhancing our frontline clinicians and nurses and making sure, whether you're at Bourke or at Bondi, you can access state-of-the-art healthcare.
"What I've read, what I understand and what I've seen here today gives me great confidence that we're making a good inroad to deliver this type of care using the latest technology."
Mr Park said he hopes the model of care being provided through vCare could be expanded to other parts of the state. vCare director Kate Porges agreed.
"We're working hard here to improve the services of virtual care to the regional sites - we need to walk before we run and we've learned lots of great lessons and now it's time to work on that and improve it and scale it up," she said.
After his stop in Dubbo, minister Park travelled to Gilgandra where he toured the Gilgandra Multipurpose Health Facility.
"I want to say this to every community in rural NSW, this area of healthcare is something that I am personally extremely passionate about and something that I am focused on," he said.
"For too long it's been out of sight, out of mind. I want to put a laserlight focus on these communities to make sure they know they have a minister and a government who has their back.
"Using virtual care is not the end of the road, it's simply the start. And if we can do it better, and deliver a better service through different means, then I want to know about it."
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