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Please don’t wander into the Emergency Department pleads the Chief Minister

By johnboy - 20 May 2012 35

Chief Minister Gallagher is asking Canberrans to stop making her emergency department numbers even worse by coming in for non-emergencies.

Instead she suggests these alternatives:

— 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-Centre – for one-off treatment of minor illness and injuries for those over the age of two, see a specialist nurse seven days a week from 7am until 11pm, at Canberra Hospital;

— 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; and

— 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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35 Responses to
Please don’t wander into the Emergency Department pleads the Chief Minister
16
thatsnotme 8:23 pm
20 May 12
#

So this entire thing seems to be based on weekend admissions. As a father of two children under the age of 3, let’s look at these alternatives that Katy mentions.

Our GP. Well, unless we’re on the phone as soon as they open (and that often involves sitting there hitting redial because the line is busy, often a dozen or more times in a row) then we’re not getting in there. So if one of the kids gets sick at 10am, the GP won’t be any help.

Healthdirect. My wife’s used it a couple of times when our kids have been sick, and invariably, the advice has been to take them to A&E. It seems they’re so risk averse that anything that’s ‘perhaps maybe could be somewhat serious possibly’ is just hand-balled to A&E.

Walk-in-Centre – well, if you have to be over two to be seen, that wouldn’t have been any help to us at all. Just as well we didn’t drive from Belconnen to give it a go.

Community Pharmacist – so how many are available after hours?

CALMS – I’ve never used this service, but just went to the website, and tried to access the info about fees. The Word .doc asked me to enter a password to open it. Honestly…has nobody ever mentioned this to them? Has nobody ever tested what happens when someone from the internet tries to see what their fees are? Rightly or wrongly, something like that screams ‘amateur hour’ to me, and I’m unlikely to even consider them.

So Katy, where’s the website I can visit that give me all of these options, shows me which pharmacy’s are available after hours, and everything else in one easy to navigate portal? ‘Cause if my 2 year old has had a fever for two days over Easter and I can’t easily find an alternative, they’re gonna end up in A&E.

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17
dvaey 9:18 pm
20 May 12
#

thatsnotme said :

So this entire thing seems to be based on weekend admissions. As a father of two children under the age of 3, let’s look at these alternatives that Katy mentions.

The reason Katy is trying to push the 30 year old flu sufferers and to the GPs and the tradie with a cut finger to the walk-in clinic, is so that the more acute care can be given to those more in need such as your children.

thatsnotme said :

‘Cause if my 2 year old has had a fever for two days over Easter and I can’t easily find an alternative, they’re gonna end up in A&E.

As they should. But what use is A & E to your 2 year old with a 2-day fever, when its clogged full of people who should be receiving treatment elsewhere?

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18
Myles Peterson 10:09 pm
20 May 12
#

Sucks to be living in an über-rich first-world city that can’t get the basics right.

Less subjectively popular multi-million dollar art, opera, football team and tree projects. More health, education and infrastructure.

But you can’t throw a presser to open maintenance, can you ministers?

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19
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 7:04 am
21 May 12
#

mezza76 said :

dpm said :

NOTE: I can’t say i’ve ever been to ED for a non-emergency and have found CALMS basically excellent for all other out of hours stuff. We need more of it – and maybe 24/7! That is, if they had a huge GP clinic next door to ED, where you paid but it was way faster, the majority of people would use it surely? Well, until it made the ED waiting times lower due to it then getting less use! :-)

I’d also like to see more 24/7 GP-like services…they are lacking in the ACT. But co-location with EDs are generally considered a bad thing – they usually just add to more demand for the local hospital…as cheapskates prefer to wait 5 hours to get their diagnostics and medical treatment for free. The whole thing could be fixed if Emergency Departments charged non-urgent non-lifethreatening patients at the same cost as a GP. Then it would be the case of, same cost and a 5 hour wait… the CAT 5 demand would largely disappear.

I think this is a great idea.

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20
charliemack 8:42 am
21 May 12
#

dpm said :

It’s a tricky situation but the sad thing is GP availability in Cbr is quite poor.

Just been in to Waramanga Medical Centre – Needed an appointment today for the usual “dreaded man flu!” and they have appointments coming out their ears apparently!

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21
charliemack 8:53 am
21 May 12
#

dpm said :

It’s a tricky situation but the sad thing is GP availability in Cbr is quite poor.

Just down at Waramanga Medical Centre – dreaded man fu – and they reckon they are very quiet at the moment – lots of Doctors, plenty of appointments… seeing other comments on this thread I can’t understand how everyone thinks there can be such a huge wait when medical centres like this are “quiet”… They do take new patients and in the short time I’ve been coming they do run a very tight ship in terms of being on time… Perhaps some people may need to venture out there?

They have an informative website that I’ve posted previously… http://www.waramangamedicalcentre.com.au – I see Dr Dahal, she is truly excellent!

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22
niftydog 9:33 am
21 May 12
#

buzz819 said :

I don’t know, I’d rather pay $35 then have to wait in emergency for 5 hours.

Or you could go to Ginninderra Medical Center, pay your money AND wait for 5 hours!!!!

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23
dtc 11:29 am
21 May 12
#

thatsnotme said :

So this entire thing seems to be based on weekend admissions. As a father of two children under the age of 3, let’s look at these alternatives that Katy mentions.

dtc said :

Of course, government policy is all about your specific situation and why you are so special. If the emergency depts were clogged with sick 2yr olds, then your complaint would be valid.

Underlaying all of this debate is funding and, guess what: GPs are paid through Medicare (and your contribution) and Medicare comes from the Federal Govt.

However, hospitals are funded by the states (of course, most state funding is routed via the Cth, but its up to the state to spend it as the state sees fit)

So if the hospitals can push more people to GPs, then its cheaper for the state and more expensive for the Cth.

This used to be the reason why GP clinics could not be co-located on hospital grounds (it may still be, I am not sure if the legislation has changed). It was so emergency (state) departments couldnt shovel whole batches of people onto nearby (Cth funded) GPs.

The current ALP govt has been pushing very strongly to take over all health funding, with large bribes to the states etc. However, for various reasons (Libs controlling the states, states not wanting to give up areas of power, issues over who is actually best to run health care at ground level etc), this hasnt gone very far. Its a recognised issue, but without any obvious solution.

So, yes, there are practical reasons why you should go to your GP rather than emergency if you can. There are also funding reasons why the ACT govt wants you to do this.

Oh, and btw, there are large bribes (um, ‘assistance payments’) available to GPs to work in Canberra, expand their clinics etc, plus considerable Cth funding in development of ‘super clinics’. Unfortunately, there just arent enough GPs to go around (some might blame the whole Medicare number debacle of the Howard govt, some might blame the control over numbers by doctors, any number of reasons). Depending on your philosophical view, this is just how the market operates or is something the govt (Cth and/or state) should work harder on (for example – higher Medicare payment for GPs if they see people on the weekend?)

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24
EvanJames 11:42 am
21 May 12
#

Getting medical care for accidents and injuries is quite challenging actually. We had a relative with a serious hand injury, left a rather large chunk of their hand hanging, and it proved quite difficult finding an alternative to Casualty.

Couldn’t work out what CALMS was or how you accessed it. Getting an appointment with a GP same day, you’re kidding right? The walk-in centre info seemed to discourage anything serious or possibly needing antibiotics (I thought they could prescribe? The info inferred that they couldn’t) … we searched the ‘net for info about a casualty-style clinic that you pay for (fair enough) but came up blank.

Relative had a 5+ hour wait in Casualty. And was then booked in for urgent plastic surgery on the hand the next day (despite being a weekend).

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25
pink little birdie 12:07 pm
21 May 12
#

EvanJames said :

Getting medical care for accidents and injuries is quite challenging actually. We had a relative with a serious hand injury, left a rather large chunk of their hand hanging, and it proved quite difficult finding an alternative to Casualty.

Couldn’t work out what CALMS was or how you accessed it. Getting an appointment with a GP same day, you’re kidding right? The walk-in centre info seemed to discourage anything serious or possibly needing antibiotics (I thought they could prescribe? The info inferred that they couldn’t) … we searched the ‘net for info about a casualty-style clinic that you pay for (fair enough) but came up blank.

Relative had a 5+ hour wait in Casualty. And was then booked in for urgent plastic surgery on the hand the next day (despite being a weekend).

Phillip medical centre has a nurse service for injuries (bleeding or broken bones) like that which is much faster for bleeding injuries such as that (basically stitch and go/ send you to a hospital if further treatment is required.

Most Dr surgeries have an emergency system (walk in with a bleeding injury or reaction to a bite) and they will have you as next patient in to whatever Dr comes out first. At least that what happens in my dr’s surgery. They even have a sign saying that they treat emergencies like that. (Not ER level emergincies but little ones.

CALMS have always been good whenever they have come out to me or I’ve gone to them. Also the health first have always been suitable with correct advice depending on my sickness (see dr/ wait until morning and then go to dr)

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26
mezza76 12:11 pm
21 May 12
#

EvanJames said :

Getting medical care for accidents and injuries is quite challenging actually. We had a relative with a serious hand injury, left a rather large chunk of their hand hanging, and it proved quite difficult finding an alternative to Casualty.

Couldn’t work out what CALMS was or how you accessed it. Getting an appointment with a GP same day, you’re kidding right? The walk-in centre info seemed to discourage anything serious or possibly needing antibiotics (I thought they could prescribe? The info inferred that they couldn’t) … we searched the ‘net for info about a casualty-style clinic that you pay for (fair enough) but came up blank.

Relative had a 5+ hour wait in Casualty. And was then booked in for urgent plastic surgery on the hand the next day (despite being a weekend).

CALMS is essentially just an out-of-hours GP service. While from memory it wasn’t cheap ($70 I think) they are usually easy to access – just ring up and make an appointment after hours.

The Walk-In Centre is just nurse practioners – they cant and wont perscribe anything. Anything other than a cut or a sniffly nose and you’re on to the ED. Frustrating in some respects but that’s the separation between GPs and Nurse practioners for you.

As an aside – did you know that most GPs have ’emergency’ slots available for well…emergencies? If it isn’t life threatening (although from what you describe the ED would have been my first pick) – try ringing a few GPs and decribe that its an emergency. In most cases they ‘should’ drop everything and see you straight away. Ive been bumped a few times at the GPs for emergencies (ie. kid v glass door) so they are definitely an option during business hours.

That’s my public health education duty for the day.

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27
Genie 6:18 pm
21 May 12
#

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….

The emergency departments need to scrap the whole “Triage Nurse” and have a “Triage DOCTOR”

That way anyone presenting to the ED, has their up to 5min consultation with the doctor, and they can be directed to go home, be sent to the x-ray department (coz there is nothing worse than sitting around for 4 hours to spend 30seconds with a doctor saying they need an x-ray) or sent out to the waiting room for treatment.

I don’t know if it would increase numbers given they can see a doctor first up.. but it can evict plenty of non-urgent patients out of the waiting room.

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28
nyssa1976 9:09 pm
21 May 12
#

I hobbled into A&E in Feb 2011 with a suspected broken ankle. After 6-8 hours, I was told it was fractured and sent home with my own crutches and a crepe bandage.

11 days later I was chasing the Fracture Clinic and was told ‘they shouldn’t have sent you home in a crepe bandage’. Once in the Fracture Clinic I saw a poster for how to protect the exact break I had in my ankle.

No MRI was ordered.

I wore a boot, the bone healed and I went into an ankle brace.

I spent 3 months walking on torn ligaments (high pain threshold) before an MRI and surgeon recommended, in July, to Comcare (workplace injury to begin with) to have my surgery paid for which ‘fixed’ the ligaments near my ankle.

I’m still in pain almost a year later, even after surgery and physio. I could possibly have another surgery on it. I still hold TCH accountable for sending me home without following procedure and just telling me to ‘rest’ it and to ‘not walk on it so much’.

And then there’s the time they left me in a cold waiting room with a major asthma attack that kept me in the hospital for FIVE days……

Katy has no bloody idea what the rest of us have to go through just to get seen for ‘real’ emergencies e.g. not a cold or vomiting.

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29
socialnode1 10:18 pm
21 May 12
#

I used the walk in clinic tonight for the first time and was actually surprised at how quickly we were seen to.

There were maybe 6 people ahead of us and including filling in paperwork we were in and out in about an hour.
There was 5 people who came in after us and 3 sent direct to ED.

Lighting and parking is an absolute shocker though, I’m easily freaked out at the best of times but walking back to the carpark was so scary!

I’ll definately use it again for simple ailments had I have gone to our drs tonight it would have cost $140 ($70 x 2) and I would have likely spent the same amount of time to be told the samething.

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30
Gerry-Built 10:39 pm
21 May 12
#

of course, Katy’s answer of having someone doctor the books (see what I did there?), has been discovered; so it’s time to throw it in the user’s hands… “If you people only used it less, it wouldn’t get so much use”…

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