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Easing Pressure on Emergency Departments.

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The Victorian and New South Wales Governments announced a major partnership yesterday to expand urgent care services across both states in a move to further try and ease record demand on busy emergency departments following COVID-19.

Victoria and NSW will each establish 25 urgent care services in partnership with General Practitioners (GPs) bringing the total number of services across both states to 50.

As part of the package in Victoria, 10 centres will be established to partner with Frankston Hospital, Bendigo Hospital, Casey Hospital, Albury Wodonga Health, Austin Hospital, Alfred Hospital, Dandenong Hospital, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Werribee Mercy Hospital and Box Hill Hospital. Another 10 Victorian locations will be announced soon.

Daniel Andrews said, “Around the country, the pandemic has put enormous pressure on healthcare systems, and part of that is because – through no fault of their own – people have delayed going to their GP and accessing primary care.”

“Every day, it gets harder to access a bulk-billing GP. Victoria and New South Wales are doing something about it.”

“We know and appreciate that the Commonwealth are investigating longer-term support for primary care, but we also know we need to act now to support healthcare systems across Australia’s two biggest states.”

The services will help ease pressure on emergency departments, give people faster care for urgent but non-critical conditions and free up critical resources for patients with more serious needs.

The GP-partnered services will be well equipped to handle conditions such as mild infections, fractures and burns.

Services will operate for extended hours and patients will not be charged for services provided by GPs. Patients without a Medicare card can also access services free of charge.

These new services will be commissioned in partnership with Primary Health Networks, with locations determined following consideration of population, community needs and emergency department demand.

This builds on the Victorian Government’s recent $14.3 million investment to establish and run five new Priority Primary Care Centres (PPCCs) with the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern Hospital Epping, Sunshine Hospital, Monash Medical Centre Clayton and Grampians Health Ballarat. 

Victorian emergency departments are the busiest they have ever been, with presentations hitting a record 486,701 in the most recent quarter – an increase of 5.1 per cent from the previous quarter.

The Victorian Government is delivering a range of initiatives to establish more care outside the hospital system, including the expansion of the Virtual ED and Better at Home programs, as well as 30 state-funded GP respiratory clinics.

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