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Partnership keeps critically ill patients close to home

New vICU service to enhance patient care in far western NSW.

SydneyConnect Video: New virtual intensive care unit links far western New South Wales to Sydney Local Health District

Critically ill patients in far western NSW are benefiting from a new virtual intensive care (vICU) service that links them and their clinicians with intensive care specialists from Sydney Local Health District.

A partnership between the District and Far West Local Health District, the vICU service uses remote monitoring and video conferencing to connect clinicians, patients and carers in Broken Hill with intensive care staff at RPA.

The service will provide support and expertise to clinicians at the Broken Hill Health Service 24-hours a day, seven days a week – enhancing their capacity to care for critically ill patients and helping to ensure patients can remain close to home.

NSW Health Secretary Susan Pearce, the District's Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson and the Far West Local Health District's Chief Executive Umit Agis joined NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor in Broken Hill for the official launch of service.

Dr Richard Totaro, the Director of RPA's Intensive Care Service, has been involved in developing the vICU service.

"This is going to mean that there's going to be real time support for the staff at the bedside, giving them an extra pair of eyes, an extra pair of ears to really extend all the things that the staff at Broken Hill can already do and provide better care for the patients."

His counterpart Dr Tim Smart, the Director Medical Services at Broken Hill Health Service said the vICU service will enhance patient care.

"We will have the highest possible level of expertise in terms of critical care available to us and that will be 24/7 which means potentially we could keep these patients on country with a good outcome," Dr Smart said.

Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said the service brings specialist medical expertise direct to rural hospital bedsides.

"This service is not only great for rural patients, it will also help to attract and retain skilled clinicians in far western NSW, upskilling them by exposing them to the expertise and knowledge of city-based specialists," Mrs Taylor said.

Far West Local Health District Chief Executive Umit Agis said Broken Hill Health Service had a five-bed ICU but the new vICU would bolster the hospital's capacity to care for critically ill patients and help retain skilled intensive care staff in Broken Hill.

Dr Anderson said the partnership showed how the highly networked NSW Health system could collaborate to improve patient experiences and health outcomes for patients throughout the state.

"We look forward to further opportunities to collaborate on improving the experience of patients who live in rural and regional areas, ensuring equity of care no matter where in the state you live," she said.