• There were calls for remote clinicians to work in pairs after the death of SA nurse Gayle Woodford. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANAplus) has released the results of its investigation into remote nurse safety. The inquiry followed the death of South Australian outback nurse Gayle Woodford in 2016.
19 Jan 2017 - 9:27 AM  UPDATED 19 Jan 2017 - 9:28 AM

The peak body representing remote health workers says staff should be accompanied on call-outs and at other times where risks have been identified, and should be better-educated about safety issues.

Clinic and accommodation alarms should also be upgraded and personal alarms considered to keep remote health workers safe.

CRANAplus chairman Paul Stephenson says the organisation's investigation provided a valuable description of the conditions faced by many remote health workers.

"Working remote differs from many other areas of healthcare, requiring enhanced self-reliance, skills, and professional capability," he said.

The investigation also identified the lack of Indigenous clinic staff as having a negative impact on the services available in remote communities and on the safety of nurses and other health workers.

"Remote area nurses and other health staff were at increased risk because they frequently did not know the personality or background of community residents or visitors," the report said.

"They were also at increased risk at times, as they were usually last to be aware of tensions in the community and the likelihood of violence."

Every nurse deserves to feel safe, says Aboriginal remote area nurse
What happened to Gayle [Woodford] this week is all of our greatest fears, writes Remote Area Nurse Laura McGoldrick.

The body of Ms Woodford, 56, was found in a shallow roadside grave near Fregon, in SA's north, three days after she was last seen on the state's Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

Around the time she went missing, an ambulance she used in her work at the Fregon clinic drove away from her home and was intercepted by police several hours later at Coober Pedy after being tracked using its GPS data.

Mimili man Dudley Davey remains in custody, charged with Ms Woodford's murder.

Her death sparked a major push to improve the safety of nurses working in remote communities with an online petition quickly securing more than 130,000 signatures.

The organisation's report will be followed by the development of a set of national safety and security guidelines for outback health workers and a suite of practical resources including on-line training.

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