The Virtual Rural Generalist Service (VRGS), developed by the Western New South Wales Local Health District (WNSWLHD), supports local medical and nursing staff to deliver safe and high-quality care to rural and remote communities. VRGS delivers a comprehensive virtual service and is the first of its kind in Australia.
VRGS doctors work both virtually and in person to provide rural generalist medical coverage for hospitals and multipurpose services (MPS) and fatigue management when a local visiting medical officer (VMO) is not available or needs a break (including overnight and on weekends).
Addressing the challenges of short-term locum placements
Like many rural regions, WNSWLHD experiences significant challenges in recruiting a specialist rural workforce to support the needs of its communities. This challenge is compounded by a decreasing number of GP trainees Australia-wide and an ageing medical workforce. As a result, there are difficulties in ensuring consistent medical coverage to provide care for people in rural and remote areas.
VRGS helps to address these challenges by:
- supporting hospital staff in communities where permanent GP VMOs have retired or relocated (including while recruitment efforts take place)
- supporting fatigue management of GP VMOs in towns with only one or two VMOs locally
- supporting gaps in rosters in towns where hospitals would otherwise be without medical coverage.
The VRGS model has been designed to provide solutions to challenges associated with short term locum placements. For example, VRGS doctors build relationships with local communities, local staff and have a thorough understanding of WNSWLHD systems and processes.
VRGS works closely with vCare to support staff in rural facilities in WNSWLHD to provide the most appropriate care to people close to home.