Archive | at #ruralwonca

Today marks the start of the 14th WONCA World Rural Health Conference, being held in Cairns, Australia.

The programme is set to contain a fantastically diverse range of research and workshops covering everything from improvements in patient care, to developing new and effective ways to collaborate across boundaries in rural health.  You can follow the events on twitter using the #RuralWonca hashtag, and already there has been a huge number of comment and links

View the WONCA Rural Conference programme

So far, the vibe at #RuralWonca has been great… benefitting from Cairns hospitality (boosted by a dynamic and helpful team from ACRRM) and a stimulating range of input from stalwart experts in rural medicine, to young, enthusiastic students and young doctors.

Thursday saw a full day of proceedings for the WONCA World Working Party for Rural Health – with the annual Council meeting held in spectacular surroundings of a seminar room looking directly onto rainforest.  As well as hearing about events from the last year, and sorting out logistics for yet another busy year ahead, there was debate about how best to support member organisations and do everything possible to support the growing number of student and young doctor organisations.  The highlight of 2018 is set to be the 15th World Rural Health Conference.  Crumbs, we haven’t even started the 14th conference yet, but for a taster of what’s in store – in New Delhi – see the video below!

Friday brought the World Summit on Rural Generalist Medicine.  The concept and importance of rural generalism in health ecosystems is reaching high levels of resonance now within Australia (where political support for recognising this is higher than ever), and much further afield in both ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations.  It is clear that empowering rural generalism within healthcare systems has never been more important, with absolute needs to train future doctors in medical complexity, meet the demands of an ageing population and achieve the levels of health service efficiency that are often more easy to find in the generalist setting.

The Summit also saw the launch of the Japanese Rural Generalist Programme: a major achievement and indicative of the direction that other countries are likely to go too, not least through the inspiration that these developments bring.

You can follow tweets from the Summit meeting using the hashtag #RuralGeneralist

And now for the main event.  This looks set to be a stimulating and busy few days ahead, bringing together an enthusiastic and dedicated group of international confreres giving the opportunity to recognise and drive forward international innovation and collaboration in rural health.  We hope to feature a number of interviews and reports on over the next few days, like we did with the last conference in Dubrovnik, between a very packed and interesting programme of events.

Follow the WONCA World Rural Health Conference on Twitter:


Continue Reading ·

#RuralGPframed – bringing rural healthcare into focus

Check the end of this article for tweets and images that have been posted online since the hashtag went live… and you can also now view most of the photos from the #ruralGPframed series at too

Image from W Eugene Smith’s “A Country Doctor”.  LIFE Magazine, 1948.

the best camera is the one you have with you

1948 saw the beginning of the National Health Service in the UK.  Many of its principles were based on the development of the Highlands & Islands (Scotland) Medical Service which was launched in 1913 following the publication of the Dewar Report into the challenges of rural healthcare in Scotland – and many consider the Dewar Report to be the blueprint of today’s NHS.

1948 was also a key moment in photojournalism, when LIFE Magazine featured the photography of W Eugene Smith. His photoessay of the work of Colorado country doctor Ernest Ceriani became a benchmark for photojournalism, and remains an iconic reference in the power of photography to provide perspective and insight. A YouTube presentation of the article is available too.

Since then, photography and photojournalism has evolved significantly.   Nearly everyone now has a quality camera-phone in their pocket.  The development of digital photography has resulted in the limits of photography being confined only to battery power, memory card space, and creativity.

Dr Greg Hamill (Arran GP) and Dr Stephen Hearns (Consultant, Emergency Medical Retrieval Service) work together using ultrasound-guided vascular access in an acutely unwell patient. (Patient consent obtained).  iPhone; 2017.

And yet, some would argue that this has had the effect of devaluing the art of good photography.  Paradoxically, because photography is within such easy reach, we sometimes fail to document episodes of experience – either as we assume someone else will be, or the immediacy of image capture devalues the art of composition, style and creative depiction.  And because so many images are produced (Facebook estimates that over 300 million photos are uploaded to its website every day), it is likely that great images fail to get the recognition and prominence that they deserve.

In just over a month’s time, I will be running a ‘Practical Tips’ session at the Rural WONCA conference in Cairns, Australia – on The Visible Rural GP: developing an image bank for modern rural practice.  The idea for this evolved through a personal interest in photography and its journalistic role, an interest in ‘how do we represent rural practice to potential rural GPs’ and awareness of projects such as  Document Scotland – just one inspirational project that aims to “photograph the important and diverse stories within Scotland at one of the most important times in our nation’s history”.

A tick that I removed from a patient who presented to our Arran War Memorial Hospital one summer weekend oncall. (Assumed consent from tick).  Canon 60D, with reversed 50mm; August 2016.

Perhaps we should be considering the need for presenting inspiring, accurate visual representations of rural practice today.

And so today, in the run-up to Rural WONCA 2017, I am committing to share (via Twitter, using the hashtag #RuralGPframed) at least one photo per day, from my own images, that depicts an aspect of rural practice.

I would be delighted for others to join me.  The more images that we can collect and share, to represent the stimulation, challenge and professional satisfaction of rural practice, the more insight that others – including potential rural GPs – will have into the opportunities that rural practice can offer.

Dr Kate Dawson (GP, Benbecula) and Dr Charlie Siderfin (GP, Orkney) during a valuable opportunity to get together and discuss research opportunities in rural practice.  Fujifilm XT1; January 2017.

What about video?

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ but video often allows a narrative and mood to be more easily captured.  Video is important, and submissions of video are welcomed to this project.

Please remember, explicit consent is required for any footage featuring patients or anything related to them. Creativity  is welcomed!


(search Twitter)

4/4/17 Update

Within 24 hours of this post going live, we’ve had an amazing amount of coverage across the world, particularly our Australian confreres.  Keep them coming!  Here’s just a few of the tweets that we’ve picked up on the hashtag…

Continue Reading · 0 steps up a gear

Fittingly, this is the 200th post to appear on And with this comes the welcome news that interest in the site has never been so high, with groups including RPAS and the Dewar 2012 Centenary opting to have their sites hosted here too.

Updated design

It makes sense. has been attracting over 5,000 visits per month for a sustained period now.  The site has grown into a useful resource (and timeline) for rural practice over the last few years, and its development has allowed it to keep up to date with advances in web design and technology.  We recently updated the site to a new WordPress theme called ‘Canvas’ – which gets excellent reviews and which has already allowed some subtle, but important changes in function.

Just a quick word on that… if you are an Internet Explorer 6 or 7 user, you may not see the site properly… this is a universal problem with responsive design, which works better for most other web browsers, including from smartphones.  If you’re not able to see columns of information, and the site looks a bit bland – please consider upgrading as this will be affecting other sites that you view too.  Meantime, we hope that you have been able to see the benefits from other browsers that you use.

New home

At the recent AGM of the Remote Practitioners’ Association of Scotland, it was very positive to learn that RPAS wishes to support some of the background costs of maintaining connectivity – and this has allowed us to switch to our own server, hosted by the helpful folks at  You may have already noticed a great improvement in speed and reliability of the site, and that’s thanks to a commitment from RPAS to support some of the costs in this move.

Where next? remains an independent resource and welcomes any input from budding bloggers or authors.  It is very easy to set up new author accounts, allowing anyone to write and illustrate an article, and submit it for publishing on the site.  If this appeals to or interests you, please do get in touch.  For a number of years we have also hosted free advertising of jobs, and this is set to continue.

We hope to develop some other materials too.  It’s becoming ever easier to develop video and audio streams, and we hope to do that here more frequently.  With the move to a faster server, it’s even more possible to harness this sort of technology.  Edited by a practising rural GP, it should be fairly easy to suss out some of the more relevant and priority topics that would be worth covering: a lot depends on time available.  Recent efforts have been to focus on recruitment and professional isolation, by engaging with students and trainees, and utilising the RuralGPNetwork email list.

So, thanks to RPAS for committing their support for the site, and thanks to our other supports of

Enthused?  Inspired?  Get in touch with the editor using this form…

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message


Continue Reading ·

Rural Mentoring Survey: Results

Many thanks to everyone who took part in the mentoring survey, which closed tonight after 2 weeks.  This was kindly hosted by RCGP.  Over fifty rural medical practitioners responded, with some useful and insightful results.

The raw data are presented below.  If you can’t see anything, you can also download a PDF file here.  Apologies that this is slightly clunky – and please note that comments are presented at the end of the PDF.  If you have a large screen, it may be worthwhile opening up two windows so you can follow the questions and free text answers at the same time.

Further analysis will be carried out to summarise the main conclusions.  It is hoped to present this on in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I have made the following observations on what could be considered the ‘next steps’:

  • Development of a profiles page, giving details of rural GPs who are prepared to act as mentors for committed trainees. (With some time for thought about how this should be co-ordinated and supported).
  • Development of a scholarship scheme for medical student electives.
  • Play down the role of social media, and improve quality student/trainee access to good rural practice experience.

Discussion can take place via the various email groups, or post a comment below.


Continue Reading · 0

So how many visits is getting? has been going from strength to strength as a recognised resource by rural GPs for rural GPs.  It aims to highlight some of the key stories and events of interest to rural practitioners across the UK and beyond.  Being consistently in the top results for a Google Search of “rural gp”, “rural practice”, “remote and rural” and “rural medicine”, it has an ever-increasing chance of being visited by students, trainees and current rural GPs seeking opportunities for work and networking.

How do we know if we’re getting it right?

One resource is the statistics machine that sits in the background, monitoring website activity.  Despite picking up some automatic searches by robots, the figures for the site show an increasing trend of activity.  RuralGP is attracting over 150 visits per day, equating to 5000+ visits per month.  We can see that the site is visited via links from external sites, and monitor the difference that articles such as this one in Pulse make to our viewing rate.

Remember, is a free resource, run voluntarily and open to any offers of articles or editorship.  In addition, we are happy to feature:

  • your job advert, free of charge
  • local service design, that may be of interest to other rural practitioners
  • training issues, or advice for future rural GPs
  • links to useful videos, podcasts and stories
  • your ideas to make the site more relevant, accurate and engaging
The latest statistics are displayed in the images below.  Note that May is incomplete data – based on 4 days of data.


Continue Reading · 0

Launched today: RuralGP@Hospital

Today RuralGP launches an email group specifically targeted at rural GPs working in community hospitals:


Providing cover to community and rural hospitals is something that many rural GPs have done since general practice began.  A plethora of models has developed, each tailored to their local community’s needs and ranging from small units for convalescence, to large diagnostic facilities capable of advanced medical care.

The aim of RuralGP@Hospital is to allow good practice to be shared and specific challenges to be considered by a forum of similarly-minded GPs.  With revalidation set to begin soon, and the inevitable focus that this will bring on accredited clinical governance, we hope that this network will help to ensure that rural hospital GPs have access to a responsive source of advice.  Similar challenges are being faced by our international colleagues, such as in New Zealand, and it is hoped that they will join in the advice and debate.

It’s free to join, and easy to sign-up.  As it’s email based, you can easily set up a filter if your inbox is already bulging.  We’ll run this as a pilot over the next 6 months, and continue it indefinitely if it proves to be useful.  We have sought advice from organisations including the Scottish Association for Community Hospitals, who agree that this could prove to be useful resource.

To subscribe, enter your email address here, or visit the group’s pages:

Continue Reading · is launched

Today we launch the new, rejuvenated site of RuralGP, now hosted here at  Take a look around to see what’s changed, and as always, feel free to feed back your comments.

The main improvements are:

  • a cleaner, more functional appearance.
  • more use of static pages for information on careers advice, links to other networks etc.
  • we now host this site ourselves, which should result in speedier pages and more flexibility.  It should now be easier to access the site from all computers, including those behind overzealous firewalls.

Following this redesign, work will continue on improving and updating the information available on this site, with particular attention to relevant e-Learning resources, and providing advice to students and trainees about career opportunities in rural practice.  Help with this would be gratefully received.  If interested please contact us.

Continue Reading ·

New: the RuralGP Network

The RuralGP Network ceased to exist in February 2015. Other options are available, including the RGPAS chatline.

From today you can join the new RuralGP Network, a mailing list designed to bring together rural GPs in the UK and beyond.  Click on this link to sign up (and note that you don’t need a GoogleMail account):

This new group will take over the function of the Yahoo Group – members of this have already been invited directly to join the Network.

In case there is confusion about what now exists, here’s a quick guide:

RuralGP Network: Google group for all rural GPs and trainees in the UK and beyond.

RuralTrainee Network: Google group specifically aimed at trainees and trainers in rural practice.

RCGP Rural Forum: initiative of the RCGP which is entirely separate to the above.  There are various membership benefits and you need to be a member/AiT of the RCGP to join.

“RCGP Rural Group” (Yahoo Group): no longer functioning

Questions?  Please get in touch.

Continue Reading ·

Blog on Holiday

Apologies for the break in service over the last few weeks.  We should be back up to speed and reporting again.

It always helps to have news submitted to the blog by other users – either pointers to topical issues, or actual news stories.  Of course, you can also join the team as an author or editor.  We’d like to hear from you.

Continue Reading ·