Marshall Liberal Government today launched Priority Care Centres to provide more timely treatment for patients and ease pressure on our busy emergency departments.
Following an open call for general practice partners, centres at Hackham and Hindmarsh are now open, with two more centres to open in Adelaide’s north in the coming weeks.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said these centres have been selected as they are located in areas from which significant volumes of patients present to hospital EDs with conditions that may be effectively managed in a community clinic environment.
“When patients need critical care, they can often get the care they need in the community - without needing to go to a hospital emergency department,” Minister Wade said.
“For too long, there have been very few options for people who need immediate care, but not necessarily emergency care.
“The community treatment centres will continue to treat their current patients but will be supported to also now accept a specific cohort of SA Ambulance Service patients, offering an alternative to going to a public hospital emergency department.
“As part of this pilot program, patients with non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses who are deemed to be clinically stable and not needing emergency department care may be encouraged to attend, or taken to, one of the Priority Care Centres.
“Reducing the numbers of less urgent presentations in our emergency departments will reduce stress on our hospitals, increase the availability of ambulances in the community and aid a more efficient flow for hospital admissions.
“The Priority Care Centres will provide access to onsite treatment as well as imaging, pathology and pharmacy services. Community-based support services will provide follow-up care with General Practice and SA Health working together.
“We are improving South Australia’s health services to deliver high quality care, while at the same time easing pressure on our emergency departments and delivering care closer to home.”
The SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) Chief Executive Officer, David Place, said SAAS is excited to be a key partner in the pilot, building on its work in developing innovative alternative care pathways for South Australians.
“The Priority Care Centres will treat adult patients presenting with a range of conditions that can be managed through General Practice including minor sprains and strains, suspected fractures, sporting injuries, minor cuts and wounds, general pain through to, urinary tract and upper respiratory tract infections” Mr Place said.
“The four Priority Care Centres are located in key areas where we know there is demand for services for less urgent conditions, where patients are often transferred by ambulance to emergency departments.
“The centres are a win-win. Patients will receive ready access to appropriate treatment and as we reduce pressure on hospitals, our ambulance crews will be back on the road, helping the community sooner.”
Priority Care Centres have been co-designed by General Practices, SA Health and the Adelaide Primary Health Network, drawing on global best practice in the delivery of efficient and effective community healthcare outcomes.
Wellbeing SA Chief Executive Officer, Lyn Dean, said the centres will be GP-led with in-reach support from hospital staff and in collaboration with the ambulance service.
“The services will work together to ensure that any person with more complex needs receives the treatment they require, including direct admission to hospital,” Ms Dean said.
“Patients needing urgent care will be able to choose to attend a Priority Care Centre or wait for their care to be delivered at an emergency department.
“If patients elect to be seen at one of the four centres, they will still be able to access an emergency department should they change their mind, or if there is a change in their condition.
“While we are moving focus from hospitals to alternative, but appropriate, community care, patients will always be assessed to ensure they are receiving quality care and access to the services they need.”
This collaborative pilot is the first initiative delivered by Wellbeing SA, a new agency within SA Health focussing on preventive health, including hospital avoidance, preventing deterioration, and out of hospital services.