Implementing quality services in rural health: The workforce challenges of improving Physiotherapy in the Emergency Department at Mount Isa Hospital

Miss Bonnie Collins1

1North West Hospital And Health Service, Mount Isa, Australia


Background:In 2016 Mount Isa Hospital secured a subsidiary position for a new graduate HP3 under the Allied Health Professions Office of Queensland’s Rural Generalist Training Program (RGTP). As part of this program, the hospital is to use the additional FTE to implement an innovative service development initiative. The service initiative at Mount Isa Hospital is Physiotherapy services in emergency department, incorporating early and secondary contact models.

Aim:To improve access of physiotherapy services to Mount Isa Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Methods:To date there has been consultation with external health services about similar past projects, and ongoing consultation between internal stakeholders. The RGTP position holder has developed a presence in the ED. The RGTP position holder is set to develop skills in this area through work experience at a larger hospital.

Results: (so far..)
Increased referrals to physiotherapy from the ED.
Identification of gaps in the ED service at Mount Isa Hospital.
Identification of barriers to the physiotherapist’s role in the ED including service scope and experience, capacity and resources.
Identification of conflicting interests and scope of clinicians.

Discussion And Recommendations: Rural and remote health care in its nature is dynamic: Changing Lanscapes. It is important to remember that the end goal of quality improvement activities like this is to improve services for patients: Changing Lives.
During the planning and implementation of this project we have identified barriers, condensed the scope and now aim to implement a procedure for physiotherapy in the ED that will withstand the changing environment.


Bonnie Collins graduated as a physiotherapist in 2016. During her study at the University of Newcastle, Bonnie completed a number of placements in regional and rural NSW, where she developed an appreciation for the generalist role of the rural health worker and the opportunities this field could provide. In 2017, Bonnie commenced a two-year Rural and Remote Allied Health Generalist position at Mount Isa Hospital in Queensland. This position includes provision for the implementation of a service development project, which in Mount Isa involves enhancing physiotherapy services in the ED. Bonnie has experienced, first hand, the challenges of being a new graduate physiotherapist in a transient workplace.