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Rural practitioners to convene at Pinnacle rural symposium

On Saturday 21 April 2018, primary care health practitioners based rurally across the Midland region of New Zealand will congregate in Te Aroha for Pinnacle's first rural symposium in four years.

Convened by Pinnacle Incorporated's Rural Service Level Alliance Team (SLAT), the free day-long event is designed for rural general practitioners and nurses, and will this year cover new approaches to delivering health services in rural communities.

Pinnacle's medical director, and rural GP owner Dr Jo Scott-Jones said attendees will hear from at least eight industry experts about rurally relevant skills-based topics.

"These include rural chest pain, psychological emergencies in remote locations, Primary Response in Medical Emergencies (PRIME), minor surgery mobile health solutions, and a panel addressing sustainable rural primary care.

"There's a real hunger from rural GPs for more education on these particular topics. They're topics the GPs on our Rural SLAT have identified as being really important for rural communities and their providers."  Dr Scott Jones said.

"Take minor surgery for example - there aren't many great existing education sessions in New Zealand on this generally. You might get a general workshop at a conference, but often the rural perspective is missing. Rural practitioners need to be able to deal with a wider range of minor surgery procedures than urban practitioners and need a different level of information and skill. The symposium is a chance to help fill education gaps such as this."

The minor surgery session will be delivered with the support of Mobile Health, who run the mobile surgical bus that works to deliver low risk elective day surgery to rural New Zealanders. Other presentations will take a peer-to-peer format, with attendees hearing from their GP and other health practitioner colleagues.

Access to technology and connectivity for rural general practices is one of the Rural SLAT's key focuses and will therefore feature heavily at the symposium. Pinnacle Ventures CEO John Macaskill-Smith will participate in the sustainable rural primary care panel.

"Practitioners can expect an update on the technology and services that Ventures has recently been exploring to support virtual care and how these can benefit both patients and providers in rural settings. We'll discuss better connectivity, point of care solutions and point of patients support," Macaskill-Smith said.

Dr Scott-Jones reinforced that Pinnacle has a significant number of rurally based practices in its network, and therefore thousands of patients will benefit from what practitioners learn at this year's symposium.

"There are 30 rural practices within our network of 80+ practices - that makes around 35 percent of our practices rural. Together they service a population of around 139,000 patients. In the most recent year period they tallied 210,000 GP consults and 66,000 nurse consults. As you can see, health practitioners in rural settings are making a huge impact in their communities.

"What's more, it's a well-known fact that rural general practices are under significant pressure, many are still facing GP shortages. We trust that supporting practitioners with rurally relevant skills-based education will help them feel better equipped in their day to day practice," he said.

The symposium is for members of the Pinnacle MHN network only, and will take place on Saturday 21 April, 9am - 4pm at Silver Fern Farms Event Centre in Te Aroha. A full program, along with speaker biographies and summaries, is available to members at Practitioners need to register by Thursday 12 April by emailing

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