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    HANDS-ON: From left, Jagath Ranasinghe, Michelle Chee, Frances Harkin, Michael Bardsley, Veronica Moule and Graham Slaney take part in an ultrasound workshop.
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    EXPLORING: From left, Winnie Yum, Jen Currie, Tom Currie, Veronica Moule, Megan Helper, Clare Walker and Brendan Marshall enjoy a hike in the Grampians.

Obstetric showcase success

East Grampians Health Service hosted a general practitioner obstetric conference organised by local general practitioner obstetricians Megan Helper and Winnie Yum.

A general practitioner obstetrician, GPO, is a medical practitioner who specialises in providing care to rural patients, including in an emergency department or urgent care centre, as well as in antenatal, birthing and postnatal periods.

“These doctors are part of the rural generalist workforce, or jack-of-all-trades rural doctors, who facilitate care in rural towns and hospitals across Australia,” Dr Helper said.

The aim of the conference was to facilitate learning relevant to GPOs and address issues including professional isolation for rural practitioners, as well as showcasing East Grampians Health Service, EGHS, its GPO model and the region.

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“We were grateful to have speakers and participants from interstate and New Zealand,” Dr Helper said.

“Adjunct professor Ruth Stewart, Australia’s National Rural Health Commissioner, who herself has a family connection to Ararat, spoke to us about the broader challenges faced across Australia in providing maternity services and obstetric workforce to rural communities.

“We were also privileged to hear from speakers such as GPO Dr Brendan Marshall, who came from New Zealand to present his masters research; specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Michael Bardsley; Bethany Wellington; GPO Dr Sally Street; and GPO Dr Marian Dover.”

Dr Helper said participation from local doctors, including anaesthetist Dr Neil Provis-Vincent, midwife Jess Taylor, registered nurse Brodie Smith and several volunteer patients, was also well received.

The second day was dedicated to networking and exploring the region, including a dinner at Seppelt Great Western and a hike in the Grampians.

EGHS chief executive Nick Bush said the conference was a success.

“East Grampians Health Service was pleased to host the GP obstetric conference and it was great to chat to those who attended and hear of their experiences of practising in rural areas,” he said.

“EGHS is proud of its obstetrics model and was pleased to be able to share its success with the many GP obstetricians attending.”

Dr Helper said she hoped the event would continue, allowing EGHS to lead the way in providing high-quality, sustainable rural obstetric services.

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