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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1367 ..


Health—nurse-led walk-in centres

MR DAVIS: My question is to the Minister for Health and it relates to referrals between walk-in centres and the emergency departments. Given that walk-in centres are partially designed to encourage people with minor injuries and illnesses away from emergency departments, can you talk me through the policy in the emergency department when somebody presents with an ailment that could be treated instead in a walk-in centre?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Davis for his question. One of the things we are seeing in relation to walk-in centres—which, of course, the Liberals have belatedly come to the party in supporting having opposed them, like green bins, for many, many years—is that people are understanding the health care they can receive in walk-in centres from our fabulous advanced practice nurses and nurse practitioners. That is why we are seeing a relatively small number of people being diverted from walk-in centres to the emergency department. When that occurs—and I recognise Mr Davis’s question goes to what happens when people are in the ED who could go to a walk-in centre—but just for the information of members, when a walk-in centre client is redirected to the ED for review their clinical notes from the assessment and treatment are available to ED staff through the CHS clinical portal and those notes outline the assessment findings from the consultation and the reason for referral. If the referral is urgent and via ambulance, the ED is contacted at the time of transport for a handover and to ensure that any urgent care need is met. So that is how it works in one direction.

In terms of the emergency departments across our hospital systems—we do, in fact, have two emergency departments—recognising that people could have potentially attended a walk-in centre, that information is not currently provided to people in that specific way. But one of the things we are looking at doing at Canberra Hospital is putting some more information at the very front of the emergency department to let people know the services that are available across the territory. Of course, I would strongly encourage people and encourage members to encourage their constituents to download the ACT Health app which provides information about the waiting times at our emergency departments and our walk-in centres.

MR DAVIS: Minister, what are the barriers in establishing a policy that would see the emergency department refer minor cases directly to walk-in centres upon presentation to allow those with more serious ailments to be treated more expeditiously?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Davis for his supplementary question. It is a question of providing good patient care. So, again, we are looking at providing information to people about the services that are available. But it is not necessarily clear at the time of triage that there is not some underlying reason that people have presented to the emergency department rather than a walk-in centre. It is not the current practice of the emergency department to refer people away from the emergency department once they have arrived. Our emergency department staff—nurses and doctors and all of our support staff—are committed to providing excellent


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