Emer­gency vis­its plea

The West Australian - - NEWS -

West Aus­tralians are be­ing urged to see their GP for mi­nor ill­nesses rather than clog up busy hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ments.

In the lead-up to Christ­mas and the sum­mer hol­i­days, the WA Pri­mary Health Al­liance said more than 200,000 peo­ple went to WA emer­gency de­part­ments each year with ail­ments that could be at­tended to by a GP.

Al­liance chair­man and GP Richard Choong said at a cost of at least $600 an emer­gency depart­ment visit, it added up to a $120 mil­lion bill for tax­pay­ers.

“For some crit­i­cal things, your lo­cal emer­gency depart­ment is ir­re­place­able,” he said. “But your GP knows far more about you ... and your med­i­cal his­tory, so when it’s not that ur­gent they can give you the best med­i­cal ad­vice and treat­ment.”

WAPHA op­er­ates the State’s three Fed­er­ally-funded Pri­mary Health Net­works and will run a cam­paign un­til Fe­bru­ary urg­ing peo­ple to avoid emer­gency de­part­ments where pos­si­ble, par­tic­u­larly over Christ­mas.

Health Min­is­ter Roger Cook said al­most one in five at­ten­dances at emer­gency de­part­ments in 2015-16 were by pa­tients re­quir­ing care that could have been man­aged by other health providers. Cathy O’Leary

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