26 March 2021

Confusion in Coombs: it's not a nurse-led walk-in centre, but a walk-in centre led by nurses

| Dominic Giannini
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Walk-in centre

There is confusion over how the Coombs walk-in centre will operate after Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said it would not be nurse-led. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT Government has been forced to clarify what is happening with the new Coombs walk-in centre after Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith sparked confusion when she said it would not be a ‘walk-in centre’.

The final model for the Coombs centre is still being considered by the government but would feature a hybrid between community health centres and walk-in treatment centres, an ACT Government spokesperson said.

As such, the Coombs centre will not run on the same model as the current nurse-led walk-in centres around Canberra but will be a walk-in centre led by nurses.

The pilot model will be co-located with the National Health Co-op GP clinic. The centre is on track to open on 1 July 2021.

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While people with minor injuries can walk-in for treatment at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre, the Coombs centre will primarily focus on maternity and child health care.

It is unclear if a person presenting with minor injuries in need of treatment would be seen at the Coombs centre as other services the centre will offer are still being discussed, an ACT Government spokesperson said.

“The purpose of the new walk-in health centres is to provide services based on the healthcare needs of a particular region,” they said.

“The Molonglo Valley is a growing region, and it is expected that we will see more children and young families moving to this area. This was a key factor in deciding what services would be provided.”

The confusion started when Ms Stephen-Smith told an ACT committee hearing in February that Coombs would not be a walk-in centre.

“There is a walk-in centre at Weston Creek. It is not going to duplicate that service which is very close by,” she said.

“We have called it a walk-in health centre. It will provide some immediate services … [and] will also provide specific maternal and child health services.”

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The ACT Government said it understood that the naming of the centres had caused some confusion in the community.

ACT Labor promised to build on the success of the nurse-led walk-in centres ahead of last year’s election and pledged to add five walk-in centres in high-growth areas across Canberra.

Shadow Health Minister Giulia Jones said the phrasing of the election commitment was deceptive.

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