City rheumatologists go bush

Waiting times to see a rheumatologist have been slashed in an area of northern NSW thanks to a pilot rural outreach program.

Arthritis Australia reports that the pilot scheme in New England has cut waiting times by 70% and travel time by 90%.

Only 6% of patients now travel 200km or more to see a rheumatologist and the proportion of patients waiting for than two months has dropped from 65% to 20%, the organisation says.

Arthritis Australia CEO Ainslie Cahill says an independent valuation of the program confirmed it had made a tangible difference to patients.