Cockburn urgent care centre, SJOG Murdoch fee waiver efforts to ease strain on hospital emergency departments

Cockburn urgent care centre, SJOG Murdoch fee waiver efforts to ease strain on hospital emergency departments

SEVENTY-FIVE people a day are using the Cockburn St John Ambulance Urgent Care Centre, which opened in June 2016 as a bulk-billing alternative to attending hospital.

People are not taken to the clinic by ambulance, but self-present for a range of conditions from bites to sports injuries and cuts needing stitches or glue.

“St John has created urgent-care centres as an alternative to the emergency department and to deliver the most efficient and effective health outcomes for the community,” St John health services director Phil Holman said.

There are similar clinics in Joondalup and Armadale.

The efforts to divert patients from public emergency departments continues, with St John of God Hospital Murdoch recently announcing it will waive its ED presentation fee of $300 until October 31, which it claimed would help ease pressure on Fiona Stanley Hospital during flu season.

But it appears the move is also to boost private presentation numbers.

Chief executive Ben Edwards confirmed the waiver’s success would be determined by an increase in private ED presentations.

The private hospital’s ED presentations have dropped since Fiona Stanley Hospital opened.

Fiona Stanley Hospital did not make a formal request for the waiver.

On February 1, Community Newspaper Group revealed presentations to the state’s only private emergency department had nosedived in the past two years, but births jumped more than 17 per cent in just one year.

At the time, former chief executive John Fogarty attributed the 2776 fewer people coming to its ED to a preference for their GP.

During the waiver period, patients will still be liable for out-of-pocket fees for services such as X-rays, blood tests and walking aids.

Patients may be able to claim some fees for diagnostic services like blood tests and X-rays from Medicare.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital has also decided not to re-open a medical ward known as St Catherine Ward for the foreseeable future, resulting in a small number or redundancies estimated to be less than 2 per cent of the workforce.

A report released by Auditor-General Colin Murphy on August 16 said Fiona Stanley Hospital had seen patient numbers increase much faster than forecast since it opened, putting pressure on both clinical and non-clinical services.

MORE: Pair revved up after Pixar says yes to Toy Story-themed car for Variety Bash

MORE: Perth to get first Lindt chocolate shop

MORE: Federal members join calls for further extension to Mitchell Fwy

MORE: Perth’s Sam Kerr in the running for Best FIFA Women’s Player award