Sustainable Rural Health Project

In rural areas it is challenging to attract doctors and health workers and maintain the services that are needed in communities. For rural people, they often have to travel away from homes to get the care they need. This is costly and can be stressful and demanding on people and their families.

To address health system and workforce issues in the Buloke, Loddon and Gannawarra region, Murray PHN, Boort District Health, Inglewood & Districts Health Service, East Wimmera Health Services and Northern District Community Health have formed the Integrated Health Network (IHN) Alliance.

The IHN Alliance is sharing resources and working together with communities, to future-proof the region's healthcare services to ensure that people can get the care they need, where and when they need it.

The Way Forward to Sustainable Rural Health Report

The Alliance released its first report in May 2023, which shows the importance of co-design and understanding local health priorities and perspectives. The report presents a clear roadmap based on evidence, that will help the region flourish. Three streams to build health system sustainability have been developed as a result of this work. They are:

  • Workforce advocacy, recruitment and strengthening.
  • Integrated primary care services.
  • Innovative employment models and models of care.

Click here to download the report.

Nurse practitioner rural outreach model pilot

The Nurse Practitioner Rural Outreach Model of Care is a key pilot program of the Sustainable Rural Health project. It delivers nurse practitioner primary care clinics in general practice settings, to support GPs working in the region and increase health care access for communities.

Clinics are held one day, per fortnight, per site at Boort District Medical Centre, Charlton Medical and Northern District Community Health Medical Clinic – Kerang and Quambatook sites.

A mid-way snapshot:

  • Four sites are operating at Charlton Medical, Boort District Medical Centre, Northern District Community Health in Kerang and Quambatook.
  • A total of 28 clinic days and 284 patient consultations have been delivered by the nurse practitioners and care coordinators across the four sites.
  • Of patients who attended the nurse practitioner clinics, 69% said it was their first ever appointment with a nurse practitioner.
  • Sixty-six per cent of patients were female and 34% were male.
  • Majority of patients were from towns within the Buloke, Loddon, Gannawarra region.
  • Most appointments were between 20-40mins in duration (45%), although some were longer at more than 40 mins (27%), some less than 20 minutes (26%), and six appointments were provided by telehealth (2%).

Patients reported very-high satisfaction with the service, some commenting:

  • “No travel and good to have a female practitioner”.
  • “When the doctor is not available, I am able to see the nurse practitioner and feel confident”.
  • “Availability on short notice for an urgent issue. Excellent understanding of female health issues and excellent with young children.”
  • “The nurse was very understanding; I suspect we will need her to visit more than once a fortnight. The service will take a lot of pressure off our overworked doctor.”

Help spread the word

For more information and to download assets to share with your networks, click on the links below:

Loddon Mallee Nurse Practitioner Network

Murray PHN is working with nurse practitioners in the Loddon Mallee region to re-activate and support sustainability of the Loddon Mallee Nurse Practitioner Network. The aim of the Network is to increase opportunities for workforce development and peer support. All nurse practitioners working in the Loddon Mallee and neighbouring regions are welcome to join. Meetings will be held bi-monthly, with a video call link available. To register, click here.


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Project ID: 32766 (MUHREC)
Project title: Co-design of place-based and evidence-informed models of sustainable rural healthcare


Page last updated 18 March 2024