Local, Independant and Effective

Northeast Health Wangaratta Telehealth linking services to communities

Posted December 02, 2015

 

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CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (10:00): I would like to bring to the attention of the House an amazing service that is operating in north-east Victoria, auspiced by Northeast Health Wangaratta: Telehealth. Telehealth is the use of information and communication technology to offer rural and regional communities a real opportunity to reduce existing inequalities and to improve health services, without having to travel. We have this fantastic service operating now out of Wangaratta and right across north-east Victoria.

Today I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Marg Bennett, the CEO of the Northeast Health, Wangaratta. I would like to congratulate Jane Kealey for the wonderful work she has done as a project leader. I would also like to acknowledge the work of Dr John Elcock, who is the director of medical services, and Dr Helen Haines, through the University of Melbourne, who has done the evaluation of this service.

In Wangaratta, through the use of technology and high-grade telephone conferencing, we have linked up to health services in my rural communities of Rutherglen, Tallangatta, Corryong, Beechworth, Myrtleford, Bright, Mount Beauty—part of Alpine Health—Benalla, Mansfield, Alexandra, Yea and Eildon. The service that is provided is through high-grade internet connections. We have links to Air Ambulance for emergency retrieval of critically unwell patients. They support GPs and nurses. We have 24-hour access to mental health triage, preventing travel for patients and families and mental health workers. We have Hospital in the Home for patient services, the Hit Risk Foot Service, tele-rehabilitation, residential care and many more services.

What I particularly like is the weekend coverage. If you are in one of those rural communities you link into your Telehealth and you have management of patients all weekend. So they get access to the Wangaratta and to the specialists, and the nurses in the health service know they have the support of a fully-fledged group of people.

What I really want to say to the House is that Telehealth is just beginning. It has enormous capacity to grow the rural workforce. It has enormous capacity to deliver health care services of all types. Telehealth care can reduce barriers.

In closing, I would really like to acknowledge the foresight of Northeast Health Wangaratta. You are taking a leading role and you have a fantastic service. The best bit of all for me was when I was able to bring the Governor-General to Wangaratta in February this year and have him actually experience the Connections with Corryong and see it working first-hand. Well done to all concerned. Congratulations. I look forward to working with you in the future on this really important service.