Prime Minister backs new pathways for care when its urgent, but not an emergency

Feb 02, 2024

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Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) are a new model of urgent care. Northside Medicare UCC and Murrumba Downs Medicare UCC are now open and providing timely care for our communities, closer to home and at short notice.

Patients can now walk into any Medicare UCC across Australia for short-term, episodic care that is bulk-billed under Medicare. Staffed by doctors and nurses in a general practice setting, Medicare UCCs can treat minor or non-life-threatening injuries, illnesses and conditions that require same day assessment or treatment (but are not an emergency).

In mid-December 2023, Brisbane North PHN and ForHealth Group, who operate both Urgent Care Clinics in our region, were pleased to welcome Minister for Aged Care, Minister for Sport and Member for Lilley the Hon. Anika Wells MP to officially open and tour the newest Northside Medicare UCC.

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Minister Wells (centre) was joined by ForHealth General Manager Queensland Kim Pryce-Lunt (left), and Brisbane North PHN's CEO Libby Dunstan and Board Chair Dr Jennifer Schafer at the launch.

The Northside Medicare UCC located at Kedron joined Murrumba Downs Medicare UCC, which opened in October 2023, as the second Medicare UCC servicing the North Brisbane and Moreton Bay region.

Murrumba Downs Medicare UCC was this week officially launched by Prime Minister the Hon. Anthony Albanese, who joined Queensland Premier Steven Miles, Minister for Health and Aged Care the Hon. Mark Butler, Senator the Hon. Anthony Chisholm and Senator the Hon. Murray Watt to tour the clinic with PHN CEO Libby Dunstan and Board Chair Dr Jennifer Schafer, and ForHealth CEO Andrew Cohen, General Manager Queensland Kim Pryce-Lunt and Medical Director Dr Ajit Bhalla.

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The launch and tour coincides with Medicare this week marking its 40th anniversary.

Medicare UCCs have been designed to provide people with better access to primary care in their communities, and assist with reducing pressure on nearby Redcliffe Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) emergency departments (ED).

As more people choose to call our region home, demand on our local hospitals has increased. More than 50 per cent of presentations to TPCH ED and 45 per cent to Redcliffe Hospital ED are for non-urgent or semi-urgent care.

Given the long wait times these patients can experience in EDs for conditions that could be treated in a general practice setting by GPs, nurse practitioners and nurses, “the Northside Medicare UCC is going to make a big difference to our community,” said Minister Wells at the Northside Medicare UCC launch.

Since opening in October, Murrumba Downs Medicare UCC has seen over 1,800 presentations for minor injuries and illnesses such as cuts, burns, basic fractures, bites, rashes, infections and respiratory symptoms.

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Jacinda (pictured with her mother Karen), who presented to Caboolture Hospital earlier this month with suspected meningococcal, is one such patient. Facing long wait times to see a doctor in ED, Jacinda and Karen heard about Murrumba Downs Medicare UCC and instead diverted there for treatment. Quickly triaged and meningococcal ruled out, Jacinda and her mother were pleased to return on Wednesday to thank medical staff and personally relay their positive experience to Prime Minister Albanese.

Brisbane North PHN’s Integrated Care team, led by Manager Michelle Bruckner and Lead | Integrated Care Initiatives Louise Luparia, with Executive Manager | Health Systems Improvement Rachelle Foreman and our Medicare UCC Evaluation Panel, including two senior Metro North Health staff, a GP and consumer, executed a robust selection process to establish both Medicare UCCs in our region – an important initiative to improve health outcomes and bring care closer to home for our communities.

“The hard work to commission these services is well worth it to see the difference they are making in our community."

Rachelle Foreman, Executive Manager | Health Systems Improvement

Also offering walk-in and bulk-billed urgent care services in our region is Morayfield Minor Accident and Illness Centre (MAIC). In response to high community demand, the MAIC reopened at HealthHub Doctors Morayfield in April 2023 and continues to provide an innovative, integrated and accessible model of urgent care for patients.

Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care the Hon. Mark Butler MP and Queensland Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women the Hon. Shannon Fentiman MP toured the MAIC soon after its launch last year (pictured).

Find out more about urgent care pathways in our region.

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