Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ACT Walk-in Centres

ACT Health made a presentation to a group of HCCA consumer representatives on the ACT Health Walk-in Centre initiative on Monday 15 December.

The concept of a walk-in centre in ACT has not been fully developed and consumer input is being sought. ACT Health is seeking public comment on Walk-in Centres in the ACT a discussion paper, by 28 February 2009. The Discussion Paper is available at www.health.act.gov.au.
What is a walk-in centre? This question was asked a number of times on Monday. The answers given were not entirely satisfactory. A team from ACT Health went to the UK to look at a number of the National Health Service models. The ACT centres are likely to have a number of the features that the UK models have. The term walk-in means that consumers walk in off the street, ie there is no need for an appointment.

Features of the UK centres include: the centres are often nurse-led services; they sit between a hospital emergency department and a GP surgery, the types of cases treated will be those that are acute or have minor acuity, for example centres don’t handle breast lumps, rectal exams, childhood vaccinations or provide medical certificates. The centres are not designed to provide ongoing care but operate 365 days a year, 8am to 9pm iare the most common opening hours, busiest times are 12-2 lunchtime and 4-6pm after work. As the centres are part of the NHS they are free, including any GP consultation.

The UK staffing model varies some involving GP’s, many being led by a nurse practitioner or advanced practice nurse – the staffing structure for the ACT has not yet been determined.

It is yet to be decided what aspects of the NHS centres will be incorporated in the ACT centred. The differences in the UK and ACT/Australian health systems, such as the salaried vs. private practice role of GPs, will also impact on the centres services. Allied health and other services to be provided in the ACT such as diagnostic services is also a matter for consideration.
The desirability of including both oncology and mental health services was raised.

It was considered that evaluation should be built in to the development of the centres and this should be done at the beginning.

Members views on the role and services of walk-in centres would be very welcome to inform the HCCA submission to ACT Health in late February 2009.


Tony and Kerry

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