THE PROVISION OF GENERAL SURGICAL SERVICES IN RURAL SOUTH AUSTRALIA: A NEW MODEL FOR RURAL SURGERY

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Abstract

Background:

Rural South Australia (SA), like other rural areas in Australia, faces a crisis in the medical workforce. It is also generally assumed that the same applies to rural surgical services but finding evidence to support this is scarce.

Methods:

All hospitals situated outside the outer metropolitan area of SA were surveyed about surgical services (n = 57). Questions were asked about the frequency of emergency and elective theatre usage and which surgeons provided surgical services.

Results:

Operating theatre facilities were in active use in 39 of the 57 hospitals studied. At the time of the study there were seven specialist general surgeons resident in rural SA. General practitioners continued to have a major input in the provision of surgical services, either by providing the general anaesthetic (34/39) or by performing the surgical procedures (26/39).

Conclusions:

The Department of Surgery at the University of Adelaide is instituting various measures to counter the rural surgical workforce problem and is developing a model that serves either the individual or the two-person surgical practice. Metropolitan teaching hospitals can play an important role in supporting current rural surgeons and can foster an increased commitment to the future of rural general surgery.

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