Five new GP-led priority primary care centers are being set up across Victoria in a bid to ease the relentless pressure on the state’s emergency services.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the $14.3 million move on Sunday amid the state’s ongoing health struggles and high number of hospitalizations due to Covid and flu cases.
Victoria’s emergency services are busier than ever after attendances hit a record 486,701 in the last quarter, a 5.1% increase on the previous quarter.
Mr Andrews said the five centers they are building are for people who are not in an emergency but need care.
“We know how hard it is to find a wholesale billing doctor, we know how hard it can be to get an appointment with a GP,” he said.
“Right now, people have no choice. If you can’t find a doctor who bills wholesale, the only place to go is the hospital emergency department, and that’s not always the most appropriate place.
“Giving people choice, giving people options, is really important for better health outcomes.”
“The global pandemic has put the country’s health systems under unprecedented pressure and this is part of our overall plan to deliver the care Victorians need.”
The type of conditions that will be treated at the centers include burns, cuts, grazes, broken bones and infections, so the emergency department may be reserved for seriously ill people.
The five clinics will begin to open gradually from September to November. They will operate seven days a week and will be open 16 hours a day.
It is expected that each site will treat approximately 300 patients each week.
The five centers will be close to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern Hospital Epping, Sunshine Hospital, Monash Medical Center Clayton and Grampians Health Ballarat.
Mr Andrews said they would build these clinics “as close as possible” to existing hospitals so they can quickly move people who come to the emergency room.
“Some people may actually come to the emergency room and be told, ‘actually no, instead of waiting here, you can literally go around the corner, and you can be seen very, very soon,'” a he declared. said.
“This will reduce demand in our emergency departments, ensuring that those who need urgent care can get it faster and avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.”
Sunday’s announcement came at a poignant time following the experiences of two patients in Melbourne’s east end earlier in the week.
Shocking scenes have been documented at Box Hill Hospital where a teenager with cancer waited 27 hours in a hallway and an 83-year-old woman was forced to wait outside all night in a ‘makeshift tent’ .
State Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas acknowledged the “discomfort” felt by the two patients, but said she was “satisfied” with the hospital’s response.
“I was concerned about what I had heard at Box Hill Hospital, so I researched two specific incidents,” she said.
“I would like to highlight the discomfort felt by the two patients in the hospital at this time.
“But I’m happy with the responses I got that patients were getting proper care even though they were feeling some discomfort.”