Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NT PHN) is happy to announce the opening of 2 new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) in Palmerston and Alice Springs.
These UCCs will provide treatment for urgent but non-life-threatening emergencies and will operate from Palmerston GP Super Clinic in Darwin, and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Northside Clinic in Alice Springs. Integration with existing local health services and the support of general practice will be vital aspects of the UCCs.
Patients will be bulk-billed and able to walk in to use the service during extended hours, including on public holidays, reducing demand pressures on the Territory’s public hospitals.
These clinics will reduce the pressure on emergency department presentations in hospitals by providing patients with short term, episodic care for urgent conditions that are not immediately life-threatening. More than half of presentations to Northern Territory emergency departments in 2021-22 were for non-urgent or semi-urgent care, UCCs intend to reduce this number significantly.
NT PHN will support the UCCs service providers to purchase specialist equipment and to promote their services in the community. The UCCs will be directly commissioned by NT Health.
NT PHN CEO Gill Yearsley emphasised that Medicare UCCs aimed at improving access to immediate medical services and built upon our established health infrastructure.
‘The UCC clinics in Palmerston and Alice Springs are in the right places to help the people who need it most,’ said Ms Yearsley.
‘They will be set up to provide quick medical help. This is part of our plan to make sure everyone can easily get the right level of medical care they need, when they need it.’
Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour highlighted the importance of the UCCs on reducing the strain on public hospitals.
‘I’ve heard from people across the Northern Territory how difficult it can be to access medical care when they have a pressing health concern, but they can’t get in to see a GP,’ said Ms Scrymgour.
‘Most people in this situation end up in the emergency department, or, worse, they simply go without care.
‘The Palmerston and Alice Springs Medicare UCCs will ease pressure on our local emergency departments and be much more convenient for our community – closer to home, at short notice, and bulk billed under Medicare.’
Healthdirect & After-Hours Helpline
Healthdirect is a Commonwealth service to assist consumers during a non-life threatening health event after-hours. The Healthdirect suite of services assists consumers to find the right healthcare. These include the phone line (1800 022 222), the Healthdirect website (Healthdirect.gov.au) and the phone app.
To assist in the reduction of non-life-threatening visits to Emergency Departments, Healthdirect’s GP helpline will now be given as an optional after-hours health service when consumers have engaged with the existing nurse triage service and are triaged as needing to see a GP within 2 or 24 hours and cannot access their regular GP. The GP line will be available during the following hours:
Weekdays – 6pm to 8am
Weekends – Saturdays 12pm to Monday 8am
E-scripting will be available, however there will be no repeat scripts or Schedule 8 scripts. Follow-up processes from the GP call will be uploaded to MyHR, with patient consent. Healthdirect also sends a post-call SMS containing the care advice given during the call. This SMS will include links to GP appointment bookings.