LABOR PLEDGES NURSE WALK-IN CENTRE FOR GOSFORD FAMILIES – EASING PRESSURE ON EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT

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Labor today announced that it will set up a nurse-led walk-in centre at Gosford – as part of its new approach to health and hospitals on the Central Coast.

This is in response to a lack of access to GPs on the Central Coast and the over-stretched emergency department at Gosford Hospital with long waits.

Gosford Hospital’s emergency department has some of the longest waits in the State and almost half of the emergency department presentations are in the least two urgent categories.

The free nurse walk-in centre is based on similar models from the United Kingdom set up in 2000 and in the Australian Capital Territory in May 2010.

A nurse walk-in centre is run by a small team of 10 nurses providing free medical advice between 7.30am and 10pm seven days a week.  Patients are aged two and older and present with minor ailments and injuries.

 

The announcement was made by NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord and Labor candidate for Gosford Liesl Tesch.

Mr Foley said the location of the Gosford nurse walk-in centre would be finalised in conjunction with the community and the local health district.  This will occur in the first term of the Foley Labor Government.

To visit a nurse walk-in centre, a Medicare card would be required for admission; however, a fee would not be charged. Patients will be referred to other health care services, if required.

The nurse walk-in centre will complement, not replace, existing primary care services.

They will see patients in “treatment rooms”, which will differ from GP “consulting rooms”. A treatment session can last up to 30 minutes – longer than a traditional GP visit.

Nurses will be able to provide a “sick/carer certificate”, but they will not have the legal status of a medical certificate.

Patients with a serious, complex or ongoing condition will not be treated at the nurse walk-in centre and will be re-directed to the most appropriate medical practitioner or an emergency department.

Motor vehicle and workplace injuries will not be assessed at the nurse walk-in centre and if a client presents with a major injury, nurses will call an ambulance.

A summary of the visit will be prepared and sent to the patient’s nominated GP.

Existing regulations and rules on dispensing and supplying of medicines by nurses will apply.

The nurse walk-in centre will not provide:

  • Needle exchange or dispense methadone;
  • Schedule four or eight drugs of addiction;
  • Handle cash on the premises; or
  • Treat babies or provide chronic disease management.

Vision of a typical nurse walk-in centre here: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/LykZq

(Currently, 43 per cent of patients at the emergency department were in triage four and five categories, meaning that they presented with “small cuts, ear aches and abrasions”. These were ailments that could have been treated by a GP. However, low levels of bulk billing GPs meant that patients were forced to resort to the emergency department.)

This is about easing pressure on emergency departments so that they are used for their purposes – genuine emergencies. Unfortunately, some emergency departments are being clogged up with presentations for cuts and minor abrasions.

State Labor also reiterated their opposition to the Liberal State Government’s plan to privatise Wyong Hospital – which will put extra pressure on Gosford Hospital. Labor is committed to a public hospital system; not the Americanisation of the NSW health and hospital system. (Wyong Hospital is one of the four hospitals that the Liberal Government is privatising. The other hospitals are Bowral, Shellharbour and Maitland.)

Emergency Department at Gosford Hospital

Almost 40 per cent (37.6 per cent) of Gosford Hospital patients waited longer than four hours in emergency department. Four hours is the national benchmark.  Gosford was one of the State’s busiest emergency departments – outside Sydney – with more than 65,000 patients a year visiting the ED.

Forty-three (43) per cent of patients at the emergency department were in triage four and five categories, meaning that they presented with “small cuts, ear aches and abrasions”. These were ailments that could have been treated by a GP. However, low levels of bulk billing GPs meant that patients were forced to resort to the emergency department.  And in the last three months, 820 patients had to wait longer than eight and a half hours in emergency departments. (Source: BHI – June to September 2016 quarter – released December 2016)

Elective surgery at Gosford Hospital

The median wait for non-urgent elective surgery was 297 days and 10 per cent of patients waited 360 days – almost a year.  As of September 30, 2016, there were 2,240 patients waiting for elective surgery. Of those patients, 887 patients were waiting for ear, nose and throat surgery; 446 patients were waiting for orthopaedic surgery and 419 patients waiting for tonsillectomies. State-wide, there were 73,430 patients for elective surgery. The waits for a tonsillectomy is 339 days; total hip replacement is 318 days; ear, nose and throat surgery is 314 days and a knee replacement is 274 days.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Gosford is a growing community and its hospital is under enormous pressure. We need innovative ways to relieve pressure on our bursting emergency departments.

“Many families are forced to visit emergency departments with minor ailments because they cannot get into a GP.

“Emergency departments should be used for genuine emergencies.”

Quotes attributable to Labor candidate for Gosford Liesl Tesch

“I am deeply committed to the region and want to ensure that our hospital is properly resourced. That is why I am supporting new measures like a nurse walk-in centre at Gosford.

“For too long, families and patients in Gosford have been neglected by the Liberals.

“It is time that patients got their fair share of resources and support at the hospital.”