Brokering solutions to the urgent care conundrum
The State Government’s initial plan for GP Urgent Care was for government-subsidised standalone clinics, which would have effectively competed with existing general practices whilst imposing a significant cost burden on WA taxpayers.
WA Primary Health Alliance brought GPs from independent and corporate practices to the discussion table, as well as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) (WA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners WA Faculty, to develop a model of urgent care that recognised the capacity and capability that already exists within general practice.
In the spirit of co-design and collaboration, the State Government then convened a series of meetings involving all stakeholders and canvassing a range of options. WA Primary Health Alliance presented evidence to show that over 4,000 GP appointments go unfilled every day in general practices around the Perth metropolitan area.
A key success of the initiative has been the spirit of genuine collaboration between WA Primary Health Alliance, WA Health, AMA (WA), RAGCP WA Faculty and the College of Emergency Medicine.
General practice has capacity and capability to treat patients who need to be seen urgently but are not emergencies. All agreed that solutions to reducing emergency department demand for lower acuity care focus on developing models of care that match demand and capacity.
The final model therefore created a 'level playing field' for practices to participate by moving away from a stand-alone urgent care centre model.