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We need to be realistic about rural general practice

Letter from Dr Cathy Welch, Arran

In response to Dr David Hogg's recent blog, Are we reyling on Huldufolk to give us rural integrated care? - as one of David’s colleagues on Arran, I can assure you, there is nothing particularly heroic about being an island doctor - just realistic.

Being realistic in order to provide for the needs of rural, sometimes isolated communities, to gain and maintain a breadth of skills that is different, but not greater, than those of our urban peers.

We develop and maintain the skills that our communities specifically need, just like any primary care physician. And the same for nurses, physios, occupational therapists, carers, social workers.

But all of these people that are essential for basic, and ultimately enhanced, primary care services need appropriate support, resources, educational opportunities, pay and conditions, housing... all of which are harder to get the further away from urban centres you go.

It can be hard enough to recruit health professionals to a town GP surgery, but just imagine the challenges of recruiting to a rural area without additional input to house, train and support them in roles that may be very different from their urban peers.

So, as David says, we need a reality check - the theories are great on the surface, but where are the people going to come from to make it come true? Role on the AHP cloning factory on Iona!



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