The demographic and social profile of rural and remote Australia has changed substantially over the last 20 years, as has the way health care is delivered and funded. Hospital stays are shorter, use of technology is expanding, more services are delivered in the community, and increasingly older people are choosing to be cared for at home.
The strategic directions in the NSW Rural Health Plan: Towards 2021 recognise that it is not possible to deliver the full range of health services in all rural settings. The plan addresses the importance of robust links between emergency, community, primary, specialty and supra-Local Health District speciality services to ensure rural patients receive the care they need, when they need it.
Network and partnership arrangements, such as small rural health services including the Multipurpose Service (MPS) model
, support and produce greater efficiency in the use of resources for rural health services to:
- enable additional services to be provided locally
- improve access through the use of technology
- support improvements in service cohesion.
The MPS model provides opportunities to integrate a range of health and aged care services including - acute care, subacute care (i.e. respite and palliative care), emergency, allied health, oral health, primary health and community services. Alternate options include partnering with private and not-for-profit organisations for some health and aged care services, to further extend integration and coordination of health services in small rural communities.