Pandemic Emergency Roving Locums initiative wins ‘Best Service Award’

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network is delighted to have won the Blue Star Award for ‘Best product/service or campaign’ for the Pandemic Emergency Roving Locums initiative at the New Zealand Primary Healthcare Awards on Saturday night.

This award recognises the delivery and support of a product, service or campaign that achieved outstanding results for patients.

Pandemic Emergency Roving Locums, known as PERL, is an initiative led by the Network, and funded by the Ministry of Health, to provide critical emergency locum support for general practices impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PERL targets rural practices that have been directly affected by the pandemic and provides relief for General Practitioners, Nurse Practitioners, Practice Nurses and Practice Managers. The funding provided covers the locum’s salary, travel and accommodation for two-three weeks.

Network Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson says PERL was created to support rural practices during a time of crisis, to ensure they could continue providing the healthcare needed in their communities.

“We anticipated that many doctors would be working overtime, leading to fatigue and unsustainable rosters, on top of existing workforce shortages in some remote areas.”

The Network recognised the need for an initiative to provide on-the-ground support to these struggling practices.

‘We were extremely grateful that Health Workforce NZ, a directorate of the Ministry of Health, acknowledged this issue and were willing to support this initiative financially,” Dr Davidson says.

With “essential worker” status, NZLocums were able to move and place locums around the country, even during Level 4 lockdown, to reach communities that needed help.

Dr Davidson says this award recognises the dedication of the Network, NZLocums, and our locum doctors to our rural practices and communities during a time of uncertainty.

“COVID-19 has been stressful for everyone and the NZLocums team have kept PERL operational during changing COVID alert levels, always ensuring that our rural practices and communities receive the support they need.”

“This award also recognises the dedication of our locum doctors who put their hands up to join the PERL initiative and provide much-needed assistance to our rural practices and their communities.”