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Over 1600 patients treated in Medicare Urgent Care Clinics across the HNECC PHN since October

In 2023, the PHN was tasked with the commissioning of Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) in our region under a new Australian Government initiative. Over the past twelve months via a vigorous tender exercise, four Medicare Urgent Care Clinics have been opened across the Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN footprint.

Medicare UCCs aim to reduce pressure on hospitals and emergency departments and give Australian families more options to see a healthcare professional when they have an urgent but not life-threatening need for care. Created in partnership with state and territory governments, Primary Health Networks, and the health sector, Medicare UCCs will be integrated with other local health services to meet the needs of local communities to ensure that people receive the right care and are referred to the right place for their needs.

Medicare UCCs were to be based in existing accredited GP clinics and community health centres, in the same general areas as hospital EDs.

The Clinics are not a replacement for health and medical services managed in regular general practice, rather they provide GP led treatment for urgent but non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries requiring same day assessment for people who may otherwise have visited an emergency department.

Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, the Hon. Emma McBride MP, officially opening Cessnock Medicare Urgent Care Clinic.

Our Medicare UCCs

Four locations within the HNECC PHN footprint were identified by the Department of Health and Aged Care for commissioning of Medicare UCCs – Cessnock, Gosford, Tamworth, and Wyong.

A comprehensive tender process commenced with Expressions of Interest in early March followed by a Request for Tender that closed mid-April. A rigorous assessment of tender submissions resulted in contracts being executed with the following providers:

  • All Ways Healthcare Cessnock
  • Providence Medical Umina (Gosford)
  • Northwest Health’s East Tamworth Medical Centre
  • Coastal Lakes Medical Practice Lake Haven (Wyong)

From 1 July, Medicare UCCs began progressively opening across Australia with all 58 commissioned clinics to be operational by the end of 2023.

Key Points:

  • Treatment at Medicare UCCs is bulk billed, including pathology and imaging if required.
  • Appointments can be made via phone and on-line. UCCs also offer walk-in appointments.
  • All patients seeking an appointment will be triaged to ensure their condition is appropriate for the UCC.
  • All patients seen at the UCC will receive a physical discharge summary, a copy of which will also be uploaded to My Health Record, which can be access by their regular GP.

Member for Robertson, Dr Gordon Reid MP, Dr Raymond Fam from Providence Medical Umina Beach, HNECC PHN Chief Executive Richard Nankervis, and Central Coast Local Health District’s Fiona Wilkinson and Scott McLachlan.

Medicare UCC Performance

The Cessnock UCC was the first to commence operations on 3 October, followed by Tamworth on 30 October. The Gosford clinic, now renamed Peninsula Medicare UCC, began seeing patients on 20 November and Lake Haven Medicare UCC (Wyong locality) opened its doors on 11 December.

Since the clinics have opened, they have safely seen over 1,600 patients. Typical presentations include upper respiratory infections, acute ear pain, and rapid onset rashes.

As the Medicare UCC program matures so too will the information we receive about clinic activity across the PHN, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of the impact clinics are having on the urgent care landscape. Over time at the four sites, we hope to be able to demonstrate progression against the nationally agreed Medicare UCC measures of success:

  • Provide timely treatment for urgent non-life-threatening conditions; 
  • Provide safe and quality treatment to patients;  
  • Deliver coordinated care for UCC patients; 
  • Provide a positive experience for the patient/carer;  
  • Provide a positive experience for the operators of the UCC, in addition to the partner hospital EDs and local GP practices;  
  • Reduce pressure on hospital ED presentations at partner hospitals;  
  • Change consumer behaviour over time to use UCCs where available instead of EDs for urgent non-life-threatening conditions;  
  • Establish a partnership with primary care providers, local health districts, Healthdirect, NSW Ambulance and the broader health ecosystem, to become an effective coordinated care option for people with urgent non-life-threatening conditions; and 
  • Be cost-effective. 

More information about Medicare UCCs in our area, and Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on the PHN website here

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