After more than three decades without a local general practitioner, the Spring Ridge community is celebrating the arrival of Dr Owen Boyd.

The GP will service the community with two face-to-face consultation days on a regular schedule, while providing telehealth for the remainder.

Under the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network’s (HNECC PHN) Better Health for the Bush, Small Town Engagement Model, the PHN has provided funding to deliver a 12-month pilot for the hybrid general practice telehealth service. The program’s future direction is to continue to source new co-located sites throughout the New England North West and build a networked model of care.

Dr Owen Boyd, the GP principal of Boyd Health, will operate the GP service alongside Ms Chloe Kay, owner and operator of Spring Ridge Pharmacy, where the businesses will be co-located.

HNECC PHN chief executive officer, Richard Nankervis, said the hybrid pilot will provide improved access to primary care for the residents of Spring Ridge and its surrounds. 

“With financial investment from the PHN, an opportunity has been created for two privately owned businesses to partner and pilot an innovative telehealth hybrid program,” Mr Nankervis said. 

“The digitally-enabled model allows for continued service outside of the face-to-face appointments, which will provide continuity of care for Dr Boyd’s patients.”

Located in the Liverpool Plains shire local government area, Spring Ridge  has a population of about 400 in the immediate township and more than 10,000 in the surrounding towns, according to the PHN. There have been no general practitioners in Spring Ridge for more than 30 years, with the closest medical services in Quirindi and Gunnedah, between 40-60 minutes away, where there are ongoing GP shortages and limited access. 

Dr Boyd is eager to work rurally to assist with access and equity by delivering the quality GP care in a hybrid pilot service model. 

“I have been servicing the broader region via telehealth for the last six months and actively looking for opportunities to provide complementary local care on the ground,” Dr Boyd said. 

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