Medicare Urgent Care Clinics
Posted August 02, 2023
Four Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) will be established within the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network.
The Australian Government is establishing 58 Medicare UCCs across Australia, including 14 in NSW, over the next 5 years.
In the HNECC PHN Medicare UCCs will service the Tamworth, Cessnock, Gosford and Wyong regions and will offer treatment for urgent but non-life threating illnesses and injuries requiring same day assessment for people who may otherwise have visited an emergency department.
The clinics will:
- Be based in existing GP clinics, community health centres or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Centres.
- Provide free services.
- Be open after normal business hours and accept walk-in patients.
- Provide treatments that would not require a hospital admission such as closed fractures, wounds, and minor burns.
- Be diverse, responding to the needs of the local community.
Medicare UCCs will work hand in glove with local hospital systems and primary health care providers to ensure that people receive the right care and are referred to the right place for their needs.
All Medicare UCCs are expected to be accepting patients by the end of 2023.
Scope of Treatments at Medicare Urgent Care Clinics
UCCs are intended to provide short term, episodic care for urgent conditions that are not immediately life-threatening for people of all ages.
A UCC will be equipped to treat problems including:
- Minor illnesses (including respiratory illness, gastrointestinal illness, urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted infections)
- Minor injuries including closed fractures, simple lacerations, simple eye injuries and minor burns
UCCs will be equipped to provide the following procedures:
- Wound management including gluing, suturing and dressings (including for minor burns)
- Incision and drainage of abscesses
- Basic fracture management including application of backslabs and plasters
- Intravenous cannula insertion to allow for IV antibiotics and IV rehydration fluids
- Urinary catheter management and changes for males and females
- Removal of foreign bodies from the ear and nose
UCCs are not intended to treat potentially life-threatening problems (such as cardiac chest pain, severe shortness of breath or altered conscious state) or manage labour and birth. However, UCCs will have capacity to identify and manage these problems should people present with them including capacity to stabilise conditions whilst awaiting transfer to hospital, including providing resuscitation where required.
How much will people have to pay to attend a UCC and what is the MBS contribution to Urgent Care Clinics?
It will be free to attend a Medicare UCC and the clinic will be able to bill certain MBS items, appropriate for the care expected to be provided.
This means they have access to Medicare items which are deemed appropriate under nationally agreed operational guidance. For example, acute episodic care for minor injuries and illnesses including closed fractures, simple eye injuries, minor burns, treating a UTI or ear infection.
It doesn’t include things like chronic disease management plans or preventive health procedures such as cervical screening tests.