Article Abstract

The O.P.E.N. Survey: outreach projects in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) in New South Wales

Authors: Gregory Shein, Kate Hunter, Kylie Gwynne, Susannah Tobin, Kelvin Kong, Michelle Lincoln, Thomas Lee Jeffries Jr, Judith Caswell, Alexander J. Saxby

Abstract

Background: This study aims to map the coverage of Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) outreach clinics in New South Wales (NSW) over a 5-year period [2012–2016]. It also aims to determine the extent of engagement in outreach work among NSW and ACT-based ENT surgeons over this period.
Methods: Online and telephone survey of ENT surgeons practising in NSW and ACT conducted between December 2016 and May 2017. The survey was designed to identify the location, frequency and the number of ENT surgeons providing outreach services in NSW. A secondary outcome of the survey was the current and future rates of participation in outreach projects by NSW and ACT-based ENT surgeons.
Results: Eighteen surgeons provided at least one ENT outreach service in NSW between 2012 and 2016. The average yearly commitment was 5.5 days (SD 4.2 days). Eighteen distinct towns in NSW received an outreach service. In the majority of cases, a visiting surgeon provided outreach services to the same town for at least three consecutive years. Surgeons who obtained their Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) after 2005 had the highest interest in future participation.
Conclusions: Approximately 1 in 5 NSW and ACT-based ENT surgeons perform outreach activities. The data suggests that many remote and rural towns within NSW are not receiving outreach services. Better coordination of services and a commitment to regular and well-constructed outreach programs could redress this imbalance. The expressed intention to become involved in future outreach programs, particularly among the younger surgeons, needs to be encouraged and supported for this to be realised.