Memes to help spread health message

South Australia has launched a new campaign urging people to go to a pharmacy or GP, not the Emergency Department, for minor ailments

The marketing campaign, which asks younger people in particular to consider whether their problem is really an emergency, is aimed at reducing unnecessary ED presentations as the state heads into the busy winter season.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the innovative campaign is urging South Australians aged 18-34 to consider the best health care option for them – not necessarily an ED.

“Patient data shows that about 70 per cent of people who present to EDs in South Australia do not need to be admitted to hospital, however the number of people presenting to EDs continues to grow,” Minister Wade said.  

“A significant proportion of that group are people aged 18-34 who do not require acute care and can be safely treated in a community setting.

“If you have what might be a minor ailment, going to your local General Practice or local pharmacy might be a better option for you.

“This new campaign, called Is It Really An Emergency? uses images of group text messages and memes to reinforce what is and what isn’t an emergency.

“The campaign will help ease pressure on our busy emergency departments.

“We are very fortunate to have a strong network of high-quality GPs and pharmacists that are able to provide effective care for many ailments and illnesses and keep you out of hospital.”

He said the Marshall Liberal Government is actively promoting community health and has boosted resources to keep South Australians well and out of hospital.

“We have established three home hospital pilots across metropolitan Adelaide, priority care centres will commence operation next month and a state-wide home-hospital program is being developed,” the Minister said.

Amy Jacobs, a Lyell McEwin Hospital Emergency Department Nurse Consultant, said the new campaign targets teenagers and young adults because research shows those groups are some of the most likely to attend an emergency department unnecessarily.

“The way in which younger people communicate has changed dramatically over recent years, so this campaign aims to get a serious message across to the target group in an innovative and entertaining way,” Ms Jacobs said.

“This campaign really drives home the message that some health issues can be resolved without coming to hospital and some ailments such as coughs and colds can be easily treated within the community without a visit to ED.

“However, it also demonstrates that real emergencies, such as chest pain or shortness of breath, should be treated seriously and require urgent treatment.”

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