Bulli Urgent Care Centre (UCC) will return to operating seven days a week, with the service extending opening hours to include Sundays from this weekend.
With the extension from 11 February, it will be open from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Patients who attend on the weekend will be able to access the usual weekday services, including radiology.
The centre, which was initially open seven days a week, had services curtailed due to staffing issues two years ago.
Bulli UCC is staffed by a combination of nursing and medical teams, supported by GP visiting medical officers and nurse practitioners.
Health Minister Ryan Park said the extended coverage would ensure the community could receive care quickly for conditions which could be safely and appropriately treated outside the emergency department.
He expects the number of presentations to Bulli UCC to increase now opening hours are extended – and says the extra funding needed to support an increase will be provided by the government.
“The health district understands this is a priority and acts as a release valve to Wollongong Hospital, which to be brutally honest is one of the busiest in the state,” he said.
“I anticipate this service will grow, and to be blunt, we need it to.
“This model of care remains a real success story. The number of presentations being managed now has more than doubled to an average of 36 people a day, compared with around 15 to 20 in June 2022.
“We know many people who visit our emergency departments could receive timelier and better tailored care in a community setting.
“Services providing urgent care like this one bridge that gap, providing a better option for patients who receive care faster and closer to home.”
UCCs are for people who need treatment for urgent, but not life-threatening health issues.
Towradgi man, Peter McEwen, was at the centre for Mr Park’s visit, receiving treatment for a respiratory illness.
He said having the centre available meant he didn’t have to sit in the emergency department at Wollongong Hospital for hours.
“They’ve been really quick, and they’re nice to you too,” he said.
“There’s definitely no complaints from me.”
Another challenge for the increasingly busy centre is the lack of on-site parking.
A free shuttle service from the Bulli Showground will be made available to visitors, carers and staff from Monday 12 February.
The hours of operation will be extended and include an on-demand option from some locations within the Bulli area.
Parking is available at Bulli Showground, where the shuttle service will run every 15 minutes.
The bus will drop patrons off at the front entrance doors of Bulli Hospital, and return. The service will be in operation Monday to Friday, 6:45 am to 4:45 pm.
Member for Heathcote Maryanne Stuart said having the centre open on Saturdays and Sundays would make a real difference to the community.
“This is an important enhancement to health services for our community – it gives people a genuine alternative outside of a busy ED, when they have difficulty getting a GP appointment, or when their GP is closed, such as on a weekend,” Ms Stuart said.
“Bulli UCC is an important part of the local healthcare network, especially for people living in the Illawarra’s northern suburbs. The Bulli UCC has seen a significant increase in presentations since it reopened after COVID, and again when we extended operations to six days a week in June last year.
“The Bulli UCC is well supported to treat a range of illnesses and injuries which are deemed urgent, but not life-threatening, such as wounds, minor burns, infections, sprains, minor breaks, gastroenteritis, rashes and conjunctivitis.”
If you are experiencing an emergency such as a life-threatening illness or injury, go straight to Wollongong Hospital ED which provides a higher level of care, or phone triple zero (000).