A new urgent care centre at Dapto Medical and Dental Centre has opened, giving residents faster access to healthcare and reducing unnecessary trips to the emergency department.
Urgent care service centres treat non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses such as fractures, dislocations, non-venomous bites, wounds, minor burns, and cuts requiring stitches.
NSW Health has partnered with primary health networks to deliver additional urgent care services right across the state, to ease pressure on overwhelmed hospital emergency departments and GPs.
In the aftermath of COVID, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says the country faces major health workforce shortages, increased demand and rising costs of providing healthcare.
Over the past three months, the number of seriously ill patients at Illawarra emergency departments requiring resuscitation reached a record high.
A national GP shortage hasn’t helped matters, as the AMA says demand for services has outstripped the number of new GPs entering the workforce.
The NSW Minister for Health, Ryan Park, said the centre has the capacity to treat most everyday conditions.
“It’s conditions like wounds, minor burns, infections, sprains, minor breaks, gastroenteritis, rashes and conjunctivitis which can be treated at this new urgent care service,” he said.
The service will be open 365 days a year, from 8 am to 8 pm, and will provide bulk-billed care from general practitioners and nurses.
Federal Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones said the centre would help keep medical care affordable.
“We want people to have access to their GP with their Medicare card, not their credit card,” he said.
“Dapto is one of the fastest-growing areas in NSW. With this new urgent care service, locals can access medical care which will ease the burden on our emergency departments in Shellharbour and Wollongong.”
The Dapto Urgent Care Service is delivered in partnership with Coordinare, the South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network.
Coordinare CEO Prudence Buist said the service would also be able to offer diagnostic services.
“The service will be staffed by experienced healthcare professionals and will give patients access to important diagnostic services on-site including radiology and pathology,” she said.
“We are committed to providing these patients with the best possible care and supporting the community in accessing local and appropriate urgent care to help them avoid waiting in the hospital’s ED.”
To access the service, patients should call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.
A registered nurse will assess the patient’s condition and guide them to the care they need, including booking an appointment at the service or escalating their care to other services if necessary.
The centre also accepts walk-in patients.
The NSW Government has committed $124 million over two years to deliver 25 urgent care services in NSW by mid-2025. It is also supported by funding from the Commonwealth Government.