Issue

Vol 134 No 1545: 12 November 2021

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Issue Summary

Article
SUMMARY

Exploring the response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the rural hospital–base hospital interface: experiences of New Zealand rural hospital doctors | OPEN ACCESS

In many overseas countries, those living in rural areas have experienced poorer health outcomes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic than their compatriots living in cities. This study interviewed 17 senior doctors in different New Zealand rural hospitals about their experience planning for the pandemic in its early stages. In particular this study considered their interactions with the local DHB and base hospital. There was considerable variability in how well the rural doctors felt supported by their DHB. It was common to feel both forgotten by the DHB and at the same time overwhelmed by masses of often contradictory information that was not always relevant to their situation. Established clinical leadership and a stable workforce aided pandemic preparations, as did pre-existing high quality relationships with the local DHB. The rural doctors were concerned about the ability of their local facilities to handle large numbers of seriously unwell and highly infectious patients, but were even more concerned about the ability of the system to transport those needing advanced care to the base hospital. Having the needs of rural health considered at a national level, rather than DHB by DHB, could have improved the response. Many were very relieved that the system had not been tested the way it has been in other countries.

Article
SUMMARY

Exploring the response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the rural hospital–base hospital interface: experiences of New Zealand rural hospital doctors | OPEN ACCESS

In many overseas countries, those living in rural areas have experienced poorer health outcomes as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic than their compatriots living in cities. This study interviewed 17 senior doctors in different New Zealand rural hospitals about their experience planning for the pandemic in its early stages. In particular this study considered their interactions with the local DHB and base hospital. There was considerable variability in how well the rural doctors felt supported by their DHB. It was common to feel both forgotten by the DHB and at the same time overwhelmed by masses of often contradictory information that was not always relevant to their situation. Established clinical leadership and a stable workforce aided pandemic preparations, as did pre-existing high quality relationships with the local DHB. The rural doctors were concerned about the ability of their local facilities to handle large numbers of seriously unwell and highly infectious patients, but were even more concerned about the ability of the system to transport those needing advanced care to the base hospital. Having the needs of rural health considered at a national level, rather than DHB by DHB, could have improved the response. Many were very relieved that the system had not been tested the way it has been in other countries.