Urgent care at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital has been earmarked as a major priority of the NSW Government after it announced a $2.4 million expansion of the regional hospital’s Rapid Access Clinic (RAC).
Regional Health Minister Ryan Park said the expansion would mean patients, their families and carers could access the right care at the right time and in the right setting – easing pressure on the region’s busy emergency department.
“Since 2018, the Wagga Wagga Rapid Access Clinic has been providing high-quality acute care to adult patients in the Wagga community who have a range of conditions that require rapid assessment, diagnosis or intervention,” Mr Park said.
“These patients are currently referred to the RAC by general practitioners, emergency department clinicians and NSW Ambulance and receive a range of services including diagnostics, allied health, Hospital in the Home, an infusion clinic, minor procedures and specialist team review.”
Mr Park said the RAC was a vitally important service and he was pleased to announce the $2.4m expansion, providing urgent care to people of the Riverina who were suffering non-life-threatening conditions.
“This service forms part of the NSW Government’s focus on increasing access to treatment, by giving our communities more options to seek medical care for their urgent health needs,” he said.
Once the expansions have been completed, it is projected that a further 3500 patients a year will be attended to in the RAC alone while also allowing for other sections of the hospital to operate more freely.
Patients requiring urgent care will be able to access the RAC by calling HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.
“When calling through to HealthDirect, patients will speak with a registered nurse who asks a series of questions about their condition and then guides them to the care they need in the right place for their situation and location, including booking an appointment at the clinic on their behalf where that is the most appropriate treatment path for the patient,” Mr Park said.
Wagga Wagga Base Hospital general manager and Murrumbidgee Local Health District executive director medical services, Professor Lenert Bruce, welcomed the funding announcement.
“We know many people who visit our ED could receive more timely and better-tailored care within a community setting and this expansion will go a long way in easing pressure on our busy emergency department,” Prof Bruce said.
“The enhanced urgent care service at Wagga Wagga RAC is expected to become operational later this year and will be open seven days a week.
Prof Bruce said urgent care would be delivered as a mix of face-to-face advice provided in the clinic, as well as via virtual care platforms including the statewide VirtualKIDS service, where clinically appropriate.
“We are committed to providing patients with the best possible care, and the Rapid Access Clinic provides greater flexibility in how that care is delivered,” he said.