12 December 2014


Suicide prevention, economic development and workforce sustainability are key community topics to be discussed at a major rural health conference to be held in Rotorua in March.


In a tripartite-style approach, the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (NZRGPN) and the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) in association with the New Zealand Rural Hospital Network (NZRHN) will host the country’s premier rural primary health care conference in Rotorua next March, it’s been announced.


Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman is confirmed as a political keynote speaker. 

He joins a high-profile line-up of keynote speakers including Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year 2014 Dr Lance O’Sullivan, a rural GP based in Kaitaia; Julianne Badenock, Vice President, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association; Dr Lucie Walters, Dr Peter Crampton and Dr Gary Nixon (Connecting the Rural Education Pipeline); with keynote presentations from Dr Rawiri Jansen from the Maori Medical Practitioners (Challenges for Maori medical practitioners), and presentations from medical and nursing students. A workshop reviewing rural alliancing arrangements across the country is also planned.


The community stream has an exciting mix of speakers including: Ian Proudfoot (KPMG, Global Agriculture Outlook); Professor Gregor Coster (WorkSafe NZ) along with a range of panellists speaking on topics such as: suicide prevention and parenting without violence; assessing how well DHBs and PHOs are shifting services closer to home and how to strengthen relationships between rural health researchers, service providers and national data agencies.


Sessions are also planned on economic development strategies for small rural towns and workforce sustainability solutions, as well as exploring the critical relationship between land, climate and health.


Approximately 350-400 delegates from the rural primary health care, farming, business and community sectors are expected to attend the 2015 conference scheduled for March 12-15 at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua.


The conference theme "Close to Home" focusses on equitable access to affordable, top quality primary health care services for rural communities.


"Rural New Zealand is the heart of our country; it is vital for our economy, the focus of our leisure, and central to our national identity. We all depend one way or another on sustained services in rural communities, whether we are living and working rurally, visiting or just passing through," says conference organising committee co-convenor Dr James Reid.


The Rotorua Energy Events Centre offers modern facilities for keynote and concurrent session presenters and a large and modern area for exhibitors as well as a variety of areas for delegates to mix and mingle.


"One of the hallmarks of the rural conference is the chance for delegates, often from very remote rural areas, to get together and truly network, socialise and catch up on the latest ideas and innovations," says Dr Reid.


The 2015 conference will provide the platform over a two-day period for rural general practitioners: rural doctors, rural hospital doctors, nurse practitioners, practice nurses, nurse specialists, practice managers, medical and nursing students, along with farmers, contractors, rural mayors and councillors and many others from the rural sector to come together on common ground, says Dr Reid.


The conference is New Zealand’s best opportunity for delegates to discuss trends in rural primary health care, hear about national and international initiatives and participate in thought-provoking workshops showcasing the innovative ways rural primary health care and wider rural sectors respond to the challenges and rewards they face in delivering rural health care, he says.


The conference programme will focus on the health and wellbeing of rural communities and the delivery of effective primary health care to those communities. Speakers will range from highly skilled health professionals to those from a variety of farming, agricultural, community and rural business backgrounds.

There will be six concurrent session streams covering clinical (medical and nursing), rural hospitals, research, management and community topics. These will be complemented by top quality and informative keynote session speakers.


The concurrent and keynote sessions are on the two main conference days - Friday March 13 and Saturday, March 14. Thursday, March 12 will host a variety of pre-conference workshops and sector organisation meetings. Sunday morning will host the popular members’ forum and for the second year the students’ forum.


For those wishing to reconnect with colleagues or just let their hair down, there will be a range of events (doctors’ and nurses’ dinners), the official welcome function and Saturday night dinner.


Awards will be announced at an official session on the afternoon of Friday, March 13.

The annual Pat Farry Trust Fun Run + Walk is to become a biennial event and will return to the national rural health conference in 2016.


Staged since 2012 in association with the Network's annual conference, the Pat Farry Rural Health Education Trustees have decided to hold the event every second year to spread costs and use each alternate year to do something different to raise awareness and funds. An announcement for 2015 will be made shortly.

Rural health issues focus of major conference

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