More than 500 people skip emergency

Lorraine Tutty, 86, had a fall while walking dog Penny. Lorraine went to one of the new Priority Care Centres instead of the QEH.

In the past week alone more than 100 people have been seen at the four new Priority Care Centres (PCC which are GP-led centres designed to treat non-life threatening conditions.

Patients who call an ambulance can be taken there if the crew judges they do not need acute hospital care, although the patient can insist on being taken to hospital.

Patients may also be transferred by ambulance at no expense if they arrive at an ED by their own means and staff advise they are suitable for treatment at an PCC, especially in busy times where non-urgent cases face long waiting times.

Common conditions treated include minor sprains, wounds and cuts, suspected fractures, urinary tract infections and mild upper respiratory infections.

So far 543 people have been seen at PCCs at Hackham, Hindmarsh, Elizabeth and Para Hills — 336 taken by ambulance, 203 referred by an ED — with an average waiting time of 19 minutes.

South Australia’s emergency departments were not able to cope with demand over a July weekend, announcing a code white situation.

SA Health chief executive Chris McGowan said the four centres were located in areas known to have a demand for services for less urgent conditions and where patients are often transferred by ambulance to EDs.

“The results are demonstrating this is an innovative and great alternative to ease pressure on our emergency departments and provide non-acute care in the community,” Mr McGowan said.

“This makes a significant contribution to reducing ramping as these patients are less urgent and are avoiding unnecessary time in hospital.

“Feedback from those who have used the centres has been incredibly positive and I would like to thank all the staff from South Australian Ambulance Service, Adelaide Primary Health Network, our Emergency Departments and the PCCs for their hard work and willingness to work collaboratively and try something new.”

Lorraine Tutty, 86, of Rosewater, praised the service after using it last week.

“I tripped on the gutter while walking the dog and my son Michael drove me to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where they suggested using the Priority Care Centre as they were so busy,” she said.

“Michael drove me there and we want straight in and were treated immediately — it was excellent and I’d highly recommend it in the right circumstances.”

Mrs Tutty had X-rays which showed a patella fracture, was treated, given a script and walking frame, and an orthopaedic fracture clinic follow up was arranged for her.