Warren Lynam

Stubbed toes and headaches clogging up emergency ward

TAKE that headache or sore toe to the GP, not to the emergency department.  

That is the message from Queensland Health after an influx of trivial ailments has forced emergency departments to become clogged and put the pressure on precious resources.   

Australian Medical Association Sunshine Coast spokesman doctor Wayne Herdy said up to 20% of patients at Nambour and Caloundra did not need to be sitting in the emergency waiting room.   

He put the current situation down to patients' fears of the cost of visiting a GP and misinformation about after hours doctors' clinics.   

Doctors' surgeries operate on weekends and after- hours in Noosa, Nambour, Maroochydore and Caloundra. 

He said many of those who visited an after hours clinic rarely required urgent tests, scans or x-rays and often their ailment could wait until the next business day.   

"People who are going to the emergency department with a headache or a sore toe are adding to the pressure of the emergency departments, particularly at Easter and school holidays," Dr Herdy said.   

"Patients need to consider that the average trip to the GP on the weekend costs less than $100, whereas the time they take up at the emergency department is five times that.

These are precious resources from highly trained specialists. And while people worry about the wait at the GP's office, as a rule of thumb the wait time at an emergency room can be five times that to see a GP."

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Dr Herdy said quite often emergency department staff would ask people who did not require urgent assistance to make their way to a doctor's surgery at 8am to ease the strain.

"If you've been waiting all night anyway, it can't be that pressing," Dr Herdy said.   

"Emergency department nurses will assess how urgent a case is, and of course someone with an ingrown toenail or minor respiratory condition will not take priority," Dr Herdy said.   

"The emergency department is there to handle major cases such as heart attacks and road trauma."  

Patients looking for a script repeat can also often be seen taking a seat at the emergency department.   

Minister for Health Cameron Dick said while he did not want people to take risks, he said everyone could play their part in easing the burden on the strain on emergency departments by thinking through their decision to visit. their options. 

"The sign on the door says 'emergency' for a reason. I want to ensure there are better local options for people so they don't have to use emergency department resources," he said.   

"Good quality after-hours primary care and appropriate diversions from emergency departments are critical to support the operation of our state's health system."  

"To give you some idea of the primary care options, there are a number of EDs that incorporate bulk billed GP clinics. This way a person presenting can be triaged to the most effective care route.   

"I will be working hard with Health Services, clinicians and the community to help people find more appropriate forms of primary health care, where it is clinically safe to do so."  



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