That’s not an emergency, says PHN

Gold Coast residents have been presenting to Emergency with problems like ingrown toenails, sprains and strains, and requests for medical certificates

The Gold Coast Primary Health Network and Gold Coast Health have launched the annual Emergency Alternatives campaign, to try to reduce the number of non-urgent presentations to emergency departments.

Instead of presenting to Emergency for such conditions, residents are being asked to visit their GP or pharmacist.

“Emergency departments are as their name suggests, for those patients that need urgent medical care,” said GCPHN CEO Matt Carrodus.

“Because hospitals have to prioritise patients in order of highest need, patients with minor ailments could end up waiting a long time for treatment.”

In 2018, the emergency departments of Gold Coast University Hospital and Robina Hospital treated more than 173,000 people.
The Gold Coast University Hospital, which includes a dedicated children’s emergency department, is the busiest emergency department in Australia.

Some of the non-urgent presentations at Gold Coast emergency departments, that could have been more efficiently handled by a GP or pharmacist included requests for prescriptions or medical certificates, sprains and strains and ingrown toenails, the network said.

The launch follows the news in 2018 that patients in Queensland more widely were going to Emergency for non-urgent presentations: 33 for acne, 13 for hiccups, 1,505 for repeat scripts and 1,354 for medical certificates.

At the time, Trent Twomey, Queensland Branch President of the Pharmacy Guild, said that it was a “worrying” trend that people were not going to a GP for such ailments, “due to excessive costs and long waiting times associated with a GP visit”.

Pharmacists practising to full scope would help, he said.

Residents are being asked to visit for more information about where they should go for treatment.

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