The Specialist Obstetrician Locum Scheme (SOLS) began as a very successful pilot in 2006, co-managed by RANZCOG, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and the NSW Rural Doctors Network (NSW RDN). In 2008 SOLS was implemented as an ongoing Government program and in 2009 was expanded to support GP obstetricians.

SOLS has succeeded in maintaining and improving access to quality local obstetric care by providing the rural obstetric workforce with efficient and cost-effective locum support.

SOLS has demonstrated that reliable locums can be recruited under the aegis of RANZCOG and that the high demand for quality locum relief can be met by a scheme focused on cost-effective maintenance of non-metropolitan obstetric services backed by a specifically designed quality initiative.

The rural obstetric workforce has benefited from an increase in locum support, allowing obstetricians to undertake professional development activities and take personal leave. The increased flexibility in the work/life balance provided by the access to subsidised locum relief has encouraged retention of the rural obstetric workforce.

Since 1 July 2006 and up to 30 June 2012, SOLS has facilitated 392 specialist locum placements resulting in 2713 subsidised days out of 3736 total days of locum support for rural and remote specialist obstetricians.

Since 1 September 2008 and up to 30 June 2012, SOLS has facilitated 122 GP locum placements resulting in 889 subsidised days out of 1093 total days of locum support for rural and remote GP obstetricians.

SOLS continues to deliver improved satisfaction to consumers and cost savings to service providers by removing the need for women to be transferred to larger centres for obstetric care. In the 2011/12 financial period, SOLS provided 1132 days of locum relief to specialist and GP obstetricians in both private and public settings across rural Australia and directly assisted in the prevention of 497 birth and/or obstetric transfers. This has resulted in a substantial cost saving for health services as well as a significant decrease in disruption for rural women and their families through continued access to quality maternity care.

In 2012 the program has further expanded to support specialist and GP anaesthetists and has been renamed the Rural Obstetric and Anaesthetic Locum Scheme (ROALS).The RANZCOG has signed a Funding Agreement with the Department to administer ROALS up to 30 June 2014.

Over the period of the Funding Agreement ROALS aims to make the scheme available to as many eligible rural obstetricians and anaesthetists as possible and facilitate access to some time off.

 ROALS looks forward to supporting rural obstetricians and anaesthetists by facilitating access to subsidised locum support in your local area.

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