ACT Health’s Director-General Dr Peggy Brown, is urging Canberrans to save the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department (ED) for genuine medical emergencies following a succession of extremely high numbers of patients presenting to the ED.
“This time of year is typically a busy time for Canberra Hospital, however activity is particularly high at the moment with 1436 presentations to the Canberra Hospital ED in the last week,” Dr Brown said.
“This is an average of 205 patients presenting per day. During August we saw a total of 11,395 people present to the ED for treatment and already in September we have seen over 5,720 people present.
“ED presentations are growing at a rate that is higher than the overall population growth in Canberra and this is placing enormous pressure on resources that are primarily utilised to treat those experiencing urgent medical emergencies,” Dr Brown said.
ACT Health is encouraging people with non life or limb threatening injuries to use alternative services such as:
- Community Pharmacist – your local pharmacist is qualified to give you expert advice on many health issues;
- healthdirect – call 24 hours a day seven days a week on 1800 022 222 for free expert advice and reassurance;
- Walk-in-Centres – for one-off treatment of minor illness and injuries for those over the age of two, see a specialist nurse seven days a week. Walk-in Centres are located in the Belconnen and Tuggeranong Community Health Centres and are open from 730am to 10pm daily;
- GP surgery – for ongoing comprehensive health care for everyone, including those with acute problems, children under two years and those who have complex medical problems, your GP is your best option;
- CALMS – 1300 422 567, the call centre is open weeknights from 6pm and all day weekends and public holidays, with CALMS clinics open from 8pm; and
National Home Doctor Service – 137425, from 6pm weeknights to 12pm on Saturday and all day Sunday and public holidays. All National Home Doctor Service after hours GP home visits are bulk billed.
“There are two Walk-in Centre’s in the ACT and both centres provide treatment by a specialist nurse who can treat minor illness, injuries and other non-urgent health complaints. There are after-hours options available for people who require non-urgent medical treatment outside normal business hours and I encourage people to use the services such as CALMS and the National Home Doctor Service.
“Information about the current level of activity in both the Calvary and Canberra Hospital ED is available at http://www.health.act.gov.au/LiveEDactivity. People who still wish to attend the ED are encouraged to view this information prior to attending, particularly as waiting times may be longer than desirable.
“Of course, if you are seriously ill with a genuine medical emergency, you should always call 000 or seek treatment through the ED. If you are unsure if your condition requires emergency medical intervention, you can seek advice through Healthdirect, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 022 222,” Dr Brown concluded.