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Call me maybe

By threepaws - 9 November 2012 9

Since BabyThreepaws entered the world I have had cause to contact after hours health help lines on a few occasions. Mostly minor stuff, but of course almost always on a weekend and definitely after hours. Prior to having a baby I was only vaguely aware of these services, but thankfully the contact information was thrust upon me as a new parent.

BabyThreepaws vs coffee table resulted in a bleeding head last Sunday afternoon and I had a few options: call an ambulance; go to the emergency department; try and find a doctor nearby open on a Sunday afternoon; or call the health line and muddle my way through it.

The health line number was at hand and the over-the-phone triage was fantastic, and the after-care advice was exactly what I needed. If the phone service wasn’t available, it is very likely that the only way I could have sought this advice on a Sunday afternoon (and no, I don’t trust Dr Google) would have been by presenting at the emergency department.

Stick these numbers in your phone and keep the emergency room free of new parents! Health First 62077777* and the HealthDirect after hours GP helpline 1800022222*

*I suspect these two numbers are for the same service, but I never thought to ask when I have been on the phone to them.

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
Call me maybe
LSWCHP 6:51 pm 11 Nov 12

Deref said :

healthdirect (sic) – 1800-022222 – is bloody wonderful.

(Health First was replaced by healthdirect some years ago – their number transfers through the healthdirect. Same service, same people, just national instead of ACT -based.)

Another wonderful thing is the walk-in centre at Canberra Hospital.

One of my staff came in singing the praises of the rapid, professional and effective help he received at the walk-in centre after a recent minor illness. They sound like a good crew.

Deref 11:39 am 11 Nov 12

healthdirect (sic) – 1800-022222 – is bloody wonderful.

(Health First was replaced by healthdirect some years ago – their number transfers through the healthdirect. Same service, same people, just national instead of ACT -based.)

Another wonderful thing is the walk-in centre at Canberra Hospital.

threepaws 10:57 am 11 Nov 12

BimboGeek said :

Why aren’t these pre-triage services available in person since the people are available anyway? They would do a better job in person at a hospital and could advise mums and dads whether sticking around for a few hours is necessary.

For better or worse the emergency department is the place where they don’t turn anyone away. They occasionally drop a hint about how you may not wish to endure the long wait but even that is based on a very quick examination to answer the question “Is this person likely to die any time soon?”

OK I’m simplifying and I’m not a medic but I am aware that there is now a huge problem with very sick people staying out of EDs because they “don’t want to be a bother” while others show up with sniffles and scrapes. The government provides services to “take the burden from” EDs but why not just give them the resources they need to deal with the various types of problems they get? Why not have a triage nurse give someone the power to triage someone to the free nurse clinic? Or a clinic nurse’s report entered directly into the ED computer system if a deeper examination shows they need certain specific help?

The nurses and GPs aren’t necessarily based at your local hospital. One woman I spoke to definitely wasn’t based in Canberra, and the HealthDirect website says that most of the nurses work from home. I assume that the GPs that are available could be anywhere in the country, working a night ‘on call’ in addition to their private practice work, so for example a GP based in rural Queensland is in fact able to ease the burden on the Canberra Hospital ED.

BimboGeek 3:04 pm 10 Nov 12

Why aren’t these pre-triage services available in person since the people are available anyway? They would do a better job in person at a hospital and could advise mums and dads whether sticking around for a few hours is necessary.

For better or worse the emergency department is the place where they don’t turn anyone away. They occasionally drop a hint about how you may not wish to endure the long wait but even that is based on a very quick examination to answer the question “Is this person likely to die any time soon?”

OK I’m simplifying and I’m not a medic but I am aware that there is now a huge problem with very sick people staying out of EDs because they “don’t want to be a bother” while others show up with sniffles and scrapes. The government provides services to “take the burden from” EDs but why not just give them the resources they need to deal with the various types of problems they get? Why not have a triage nurse give someone the power to triage someone to the free nurse clinic? Or a clinic nurse’s report entered directly into the ED computer system if a deeper examination shows they need certain specific help?

lostinbias 9:18 pm 09 Nov 12

I called a GP Helpline (I presume it was the HealthDirect one) a few months back when I had an imminent international flight and wanted to know if there would be any issue with a recent knee injury. It was a good experience, the guy I spoke to was very professional and helpful.

astrojax 12:23 pm 09 Nov 12

well said, threepaws – i have also used this line extensively since astromonkey (and now astrochicken) have come along. brilliant service, give a medal to whoever designed and implemented it, i say… 🙂

switch 11:22 am 09 Nov 12

“it is very likely that the only way I could have sought this advice on a Sunday afternoon … would have been by presenting at the emergency department.”

Take a book to read, so you can enjoy the twelve hour wait… That was my experience with switch junior. The doctor was marvellous when we finally got to him, but EXTREMELY busy, mainly through gross under-staffing. And the drunken yobbo sitting next to my son was pretty gross, too.

Madam Cholet 10:17 am 09 Nov 12

Agree with the post and t he comment already here. Even if you are seeking reassurance that you are doing or have done the right thing they are great.

I’m the sort of parent, like my own parents, who could maybe ever so slightly be accused of playing down symptoms, as opposed to rushing off to ED on the back of a sneeze, so this is a great way to ascertain how serious things might be.

beejay76 9:37 am 09 Nov 12

Love the HealthDirect helpline. Children never, ever, ever get alarmingly ill when medical services are easily accessible. It is the way of the world. Many a time have I called the HealthDirect line at ungodly hours and spoken with a nurse, then a GP to determine if I should waste people’s time at emergency. Excellent service.

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