Pandemics and rural generalist doctors: A West Coast comment.

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Brendan and Laura discuss the effect (and need) of rural generalists spanning primary and secondary care on the Coast – especially in the time of a pandemic – in this letter, which is Open Access in the NZMJ.

Marshall B, Aileone L. COVID–19 pandemic and rural generalism: the West Coast’s rural workforce solution. The New Zealand medical journal. 2020 May 8;133(1514):90.


“The current COVID–19 pandemic only strengthens the need to move to a more flexible workforce rurally, where clinicians can flex across services, maximising skill sets and ensuring the workforce is utilised effectively. This is something specialty workforces cannot do effectively, as they lack the training to deliver care in other areas. When the elective work is removed, as is happening within this COVID–19 environment, a ‘specialist’ workforce is often unable to respond to urgent service needs.”

“The opportunity a crisis has provided to do better for patients cannot be squandered. This would see the coast develop a more resilient SMO workforce, while delivering care at a responsible price. In the long term, this would see a combination of local and Christchurch-based specialists working collaboratively with a team of rural generalists to provide the right care for patients into the future.”

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