Alternatives to the Emergency Department as presentations surge

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THE Clinical Director of Canberra Hospital’s Emergency Department, Dr Michael Hall, is urging Canberrans to save the 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. In the first 10 days of June 2015, we have already seen 2,086 people present to the emergency department for treatment. This equates to almost 210 presentations daily,” Michael said.

“For the month of May 2015, we saw a total of 6,415 people present to Canberra Hospital ED; this is one of the highest numbers of presentations recorded for a single month at Canberra Hospital.

“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.”

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 7:30am 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 Centres in the ACT, and both centres provide treatment by a specialist nurse for minor illness, colds or flu, bites, stings, cuts, abrasions and other minor or 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.”

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