Rural WONCA – Day 1

wonca_logo_final_01Over the next four days, the WONCA World Rural Health conference is taking place in Dubrovnik, Croatia. My attendance at this has been supported by RCGP Scotland, in part so that we can hear the latest in what’s happening across the world to tackle ‘hot topics’ in rural healthcare provision, and bring this back home to various groups, including the RCGP Scotland Rural Strategy Group.

I’ll also be presenting some of the work being done in the group – that’s coming up on Saturday, a 10 minute oral presentation sandwiched amongst lots of other interesting topics.

The main aim for me, over the next few days, is to learn as much as possible from how other groups and countries are tackling similar issues, see what collaboration might be possible, and distill down methods and approaches that we could feasibly implement in Scotland.

That is the key word: implementation. So much has been written about the challenges of remote & rural healthcare, and ideas on how to solve them… so many different steering groups, committees and task forces have been set up; but the biggest challenge remains in implementation, and we need to resist the temptation to re-define, re-evaluate, re-consider and re-view the situation. We need more effective, resourced, pragmatic action, aimed absolutely at the ‘coal face’ of rural practice, and build on all the strengths we already have.  We know there needs to be better access for our medical students to rural practice.  There’s so much great work to build on.  Let’s just do it.

And already I’m getting some great perspectives on success stories from other parts of the world.

There’s no doubt that Scotland has had its own successes. In particular, our Rural Fellowship programme (structured but supported and open-minded year for recently-qualified GPs to experience rural practice) seems to be viewed with a degree of envy by our international colleagues… and perhaps ensuring some Scottish representation at WONCA can help encourage others to try implementing their own Fellowship programmes. We all have a lot to learn from each other.

It will also be great to meet individuals who are active on twitter, and normally confined to 140 characters to make their point! Today sees Day 2 of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice, followed by the opening ceremony of the conference itself.

I suspect the week will fly past.

My aim however, is to try to capture some of the key elements of the conference to share on  For those who are used to following rural hot topics on twitter, you can keep an eye on events by following the hashtag #woncarural2015 .

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