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Nurse practitioner led model of after-hours emergency care in an Australian rural urgent care Centre: health service stakeholder perceptions
journal contributionposted on 2021-08-25, 01:43 authored by Elena WilsonElena Wilson, Lisa C Hanson, Kathleen E Tori, Byron PerrinByron Perrin
Abstract Background The challenges of providing and accessing quality health care in rural regions have long been identified. Innovative solutions are not only required but are also vital if effective, timely and equitable access to sustainable health care in rural communities is to be realised. Despite trial implementation of some alternative models of health care delivery, not all have been evaluated and their impacts are not well understood. The aim of this study was to explore the views of staff and stakeholders of a rural health service in relation to the implementation of an after-hours nurse practitioner model of health care delivery in its Urgent Care Centre. Methods This qualitative study included semi-structured individual and group interviews with professional stakeholders of a rural health service in Victoria, Australia and included hospital managers and hospital staff who worked directly or indirectly with the after-hours NPs in addition to local GPs, GP practice nurses, and paramedics. Thematic analysis was used to generate key themes from the data. Results Four themes emerged from the data analysis: transition to change; acceptance of the after-hours nurse practitioner role; workforce sustainability; and rural context. Conclusions This study suggests that the nurse practitioner-led model is valued by rural health practitioners and could reduce the burden of excessive after-hour on-call duties for rural GPs while improving access to quality health care for community members. As pressure on rural urgent care centres further intensifies with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, serious consideration of the nurse practitioner-led model is recommended as a desirable and effective alternative.