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The unique world of rural and remote healthcare

25 Aug 2022

How far will some patients travel to access safe healthcare? And what is unique about the patient and practitioner experience in rural and remote Australia?

Key points
  • Taking care host Tash Miles is joined by remote healthcare consumer advocate Carolyn Becker, CEO of Rural Doctors Association Australia, Peta Rutherford, and Alice Springs Hospital cardiologist, Dr Angus Baumann.
  • They explore the distribution of healthcare in rural and remote areas and how this affects access.
  • Guests reflect on the unique partnerships and strong connections between patients and practitioners in rural and remote Australia. 


In this episode of Taking care, host Tash Miles explores the challenges and joys of remote healthcare with consumer advocate, Carolyn Becker; Rural Doctors Association Australia CEO Peta Rutherford; and Alice Springs Hospital cardiologist, Dr Angus Baumann.

Living and working in these areas allows practitioners to utilise their skills across a broad range of areas, which would not necessarily happen in a metropolitan health service, Peta Rutherford said.

Dr Baumann works in Alice Springs and while the hospital supports many areas of healthcare, patients have to travel a long way to access it. He recalls one determined patient who didn’t let major river flooding get in her way.

‘The bus got caught at the river… they hitched a lift to the river, got out, swam across the river and then got on the bus and got the bus into town, came into town and had the CT scan,’ he said.

‘That just shows the lengths that patients will go to to access services are incredible.’

Dr Baumann is very mindful of working and treating on country and being respectful of the traditional owners and their preferred way of living and healing. This respect for culturally safe care and supporting migrant families access healthcare is also something Carolyn hears a lot too.

But it’s the close bond with patients that keeps practitioners working in remote areas, Peta says.

'We hear stories of doctors who have birthed three generations, or two generations, but they provide care for the children, for the parents, and the grandparents, and that’s amazing.’

Carolyn acknowledged that communities wanted to be able to access care and facilities close to home, regardless of where they live.

‘They want to grow old at home and stay in the community they’ve dedicated their lives to.’

Listen to the full episode here.

Did you know?

The Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare. Download and listen to the latest Taking care episode today.

Ahpra releases a new episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking Care’ in your podcast player.

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Page reviewed 25/08/2022