A paid paramedic providing after hours care could help reduce rural health inequities.
A team of our Nursing ākonga (learners) undertook a community project seeking to improve the health and safety of the Twizel community. Information about community needs was gathered using publicly available data and interviews with community stakeholders. Their community assessment included a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
A range of health needs were identified, reflecting the inequalities of health care access for rural communities. The team chose to focus on after hours emergency care. Longer emergency response times contribute to poorer outcomes from road accidents. The provision of after hours emergency care needs to have sustainable hours/workload for health care staff to avoid risking burnout, and also needs to be affordable for patients in low socio-economic groups.
From their extensive international evidence-based literature review, ākonga identified a possible solution: a rural paramedic could perhaps provide after hours care beyond emergencies. They wrote a submission to advocate for better after hours care, asking for a paid paramedic position. The submission was sent to the Chief Executive of Hato Hone St John and to the Minister of Health because they are best positioned to create change. The team also designed a fridge magnet for the community, to reduce confusion about who to ring for what after hours health service: 111 for emergencies (police, ambulance, fire brigade), 0800 611 116 (Healthline), 1737 free calls and text mental health helpline, 105 police non-emergency.