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Major recognition for the Virtual Rural Generalist Service

05 December 2022

Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) would like to congratulate everyone involved in the District’s Virtual Rural Generalist Service (VRGS) which has won the NSW Premier’s Award for Excellence in Digital Innovation.

WNSWLHD Chief Executive Mark Spittal said the award clearly shows how the Western NSW Local Health District is leading the way in delivering virtual care to the communities who need it most.

“I am very proud of our staff and what they have achieved with this service. The VRGS has provided an innovative, first of its kind solution to longstanding rural health workforce challenges, ” Mr Spittal said.

The VRGS was developed to support rural staff and patients by providing access to highly-qualified Rural Generalist medical officers via videoconference. The service also deploys doctors on the ground to provide coverage for communities where a doctor may not be available.

WNSWLHD Rural Health Director of Medical Services Dr Shannon Nott, said communities have embraced this service, with more than 40,000 virtual consultations and 800 days of in person care in its first two years.

“This service ensures patients presenting to rural emergency departments, hospitals, multipurpose services and walk in health centres can see a medical officer without having to travel,” Dr Nott said.

“It also supports the recruitment of new doctors into communities by providing them with professional support, back up, fatigue and leave relief.

“The VRGS truly showed its worth during the COVID-19 response in 2020 and 2021 providing life-saving care across 30 per cent of NSW.

“During the omicron outbreak in 2021, VRGS delivered an entirely new service – COVID Care in the Community – which provided thousands of medical consultations and management to patients in their home with COVID-19.

“I am extremely proud of the VRGS team and what we have achieved over the last two years, and excited about where else we can go from here,” Dr Nott said.

Watch the video about the service.