Labor to press ahead with nurse-led walk-in centres against Baird objections - with 100,000 people using them in the ACT

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NSW Labor today said it would press ahead with its plan for $40 million nurse-led walk-in centres in NSW despite objections from Mike Baird - saying that in the last five years 100,000 people have used similar clinics in the ACT.

This morning, NSW Labor leader Luke Foley was joined by former ACT Chief Minister and former ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher and NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord to announce that Labor will set up four new nurse walk-in centres – two in western Sydney, one in the Illawarra and one on the Central Coast.

Similar centres have operated in the United Kingdom since 2000 and in the Australian Capital Territory since
2010.

“Families have voted with their feet in the ACT – with 100,000 people using the centres,” Mr Foley said.

“This is a policy that has worked in both the UK and the Australian Capital Territory.

“This is about Labor’s new ideas and new approach to health and finding innovative solutions to the pressures on our State’s health system. As political leaders, we must find better and smarter ways to improve the health of NSW rather than just resorting to old practices.

“Our health system – and in particular our emergency departments – is under pressure due to a growing and ageing population as well as the massive billion dollar cuts by Tony Abbott and by Mike Baird’s State Liberals and Nationals.

“Nurse-led walk-in centres are a bold new initiative – and the evidence in other jurisdictions show they work.

“Nurse-led walk-in centres reach people who go to emergency departments for minor ailments and cuts and abrasions. They target people who need one-off care, such as a parent with a child with an ear infection on a weeknight.

“Having this free option will relieve the pressure on local hospital emergency departments which are struggling to cope with the Abbott and Baird funding cuts.”

Mr Secord said he was disappointed that Premier Mike Baird and Health Minister Jillian Skinner had rejected the plan and did not have confidence in our State’s nurses.

Earlier this month, Labor announced a plan to allow chemists to provide flu vaccinations in pharmacies to increase the State’s flu vaccination rate. This was also met with opposition.

“It is time that the Liberals and Nationals started looking at new ideas rather than simply rejecting them. Vaccinations in pharmacies and nurses walk-in centres are already commonplace in the UK,” Mr Secord said.

“I understand that the AMA (Australian Medical Association) want to defend their traditional practices, however, Labor is focused on the needs of the community. My priority is the parent and child with an ear infection needing treatment after 6pm. It is a shame that Mike Baird and his health minister Jillian Skinner will not examine new practices,” Mr Secord said.

“State-wide, 31 per cent of all patients in emergency departments are waiting more than four hours for treatment. At Westmead, 55 per cent of patients wait more than four hours; at Blacktown and Liverpool, 51 per cent of patients wait more than four hours for treatment,” Mr Secord said.

“In the Illawarra at Wollongong hospital, 34 per cent of patients wait longer than four hours and a third of the 60,000 of them each year are there for minor ailments and at Shellharbour hospital, 35 per cent of patients wait longer than four hours and almost half of the 21,000 patients in emergency department are being treated for minor ailments.”