A new after hours campaign aims to raise awareness of available after hours medical services and reduce the volume of unnecessary emergency department visits. Thousands of Victorians are going to hospital emergency departments outside of business hours when they could instead receive high-quality care from after hours health providers near them.
It’s late at night. Your little one should have been asleep long hours ago, but a nasty sounding cough has been waking her every few minutes. Now she feels feverish and won’t let you go. It will be hours before your GP opens in the morning. What do you do?
For many people in situations like this, the answer is simple – go to a hospital emergency department. But for people with less urgent conditions, this could mean waiting for hours to be seen, often only to be sent home. It’s inconvenient for patients, it puts extra pressure on our hospitals and it costs our health system as much as four times as much as patients going to see their GP.
Fortunately, there are many options for after hours medical care outside of hospital emergency departments, from GPs with extended hours to phone helplines and even nurse services at some late-night pharmacies.
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) has launched a new campaign to build awareness of after hours medical services. “For many Victorians, attendance at an ED is thought to be the only option available for medical care outside of business hours,” NWMPHN CEO Adjunct Associate Professor Christopher Carter said. “By helping to connect people with appropriate after hours health care services we hope to reduce the pressure on hospital emergency departments in Melbourne.”
Dr.Eswarasamy Rajini, general practitioner at Juniper Avenue Medical Centre in Point Cook, said after hours doctors fill an important role in the provision and accessibility of medical care that does not necessarily require urgent hospital attention. “From a broken nose to an upset stomach, most common health problems can be treated by your local after hours health care provider.”
After hours medical service providers can also order printed posters by emailing NWMPHN.
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