Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook have announced a pilot to test a new community-based urgent care model which will help alleviate strain on hospital emergency departments and give patients more choice and access closer to home.
The 18-month GP Urgent Care Clinic Network pilot model, delivered in partnership with the WA Primary Health Alliance, will commence on September 10 and will enhance capacity within community-based GPs to care for patients with urgent but non-life-threatening conditions.
A cross-sectional study found between 200,000 and 400,000 WA patients with non-life threatening conditions could have been seen by GPs instead of hospitals.
Examples of urgent but non-life-threating medical conditions include:
- Skin and soft tissue infections and symptoms, such as cuts and lacerations, mild burns and rashes, bites and insect stings;
- Musculoskeletal injuries such as minor fractures, sports injuries and minor neck and back pain; and
- Other potentially urgent medical symptoms such as urinary tract infections and wound infections and abdominal pain.
All GP Urgent Care Clinics in the pilot will have access to pathology and radiology services. They will also include fully equipped treatment rooms to apply sutures, plastering and conduct minor procedures.
The pilot, developed in conjunction with WA Primary Health Alliance and supported by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners WA Faculty and the Australian Medical Association (WA), will provide better connection of care between hospitals and general practice to keep people well in the community – a key Sustainable Health Review recommendation.
Delivering urgent care clinics and the Sustainable Health Review are both key election commitments the McGowan Government has been focused on.
To date 133 GP practices across the State will participate in the pilot, which will be supported through a comprehensive advertising campaign aimed to raise awareness of the types of conditions that the GP Urgent Care Clinic Network can help with.
The University of Western Australia will complete a formal evaluation of the GP Urgent Care Network pilot with Curtin University validating the consumer data. This will allow us to establish what works based on scientific evidence.
Bookings for these urgent care clinic appointments will be accessible via an online directory and booking solution and specialised phone number, which is being developed specifically to support this project and will go live on September 10.
As stated by Premier Mark McGowan:
“We’re getting on with the job to deliver Western Australians an alternative model of health care for non-emergency situations, in the community and closer to home.
“Rather than making people sit in a busy emergency department, these urgent care clinics round out the model of care provided to Western Australians giving them more options and access to medical services.
“This is about broadening the range of services available for patients at a local level. People should always still go to hospital in an emergency.”
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“Nearly one-fifth of attendances to WA Emergency Departments in 2017-18 could have been potentially avoided with treatment in primary care.
“We said we would enter a formal arrangement with a range of general practices licensed to operate as urgent care clinics and these would be promoted through a dedicated awareness raising campaign.
“This pilot is good news for patients who will have an easily accessible alternative to the ED, and good news for the health system, ensuring the care of patients is shared appropriately.
“This is proof that we are getting on with the business of improving the health system to benefit Western Australians, building a better health model.”