PEOPLE are being urged to build relationships with their local general practitioner rather than going to emergency departments (ED) for non-urgent ailments.
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) launched the Choose Well, When You’re Worried Sick campaign at Belmont City Medical Centre today as emergency departments became busier during Christmas.
Health Minister Roger Cook said the campaign was designed to inform the public about their health choices.
“We all know as parents how anxious you can become when your child or a member of your family becomes sick and often people make the unnecessary decision to go to an emergency department,” he said.
“Our emergency departments provide world-class healthcare but it may not be the most appropriate healthcare.
“We know that general practitioner who knows the patient personally and is open and available in the local community provides the best possible healthcare for patients who need urgent attention but don’t need the fully-fledged services of an emergency department.
“This campaign is worth around $270,000, it costs $600 to the health system every time someone steps into an ED so it doesn’t take you long to realise that if we can divert over 450 people, the campaign has paid for itself.
“It also means pressure comes off our EDs and they help the sickest of patients.”
Belmont City Medical Centre general practitioner Sri Srigandan he had noticed that people between 18 and 35 moved away from home and lost their relationship with their general practitioner.
“This ongoing relationship between a patient and the GP is extremely valuable for preventative health care,” Dr Srigandan said.
Belmont City Medical Centre patient Emma Moore said it was important to build a relationship with a GP and visit them regularly to keep on top of health issues.
WAPHA chairman Richard Choong said more than 200,000 people were visiting WA emergency departments every year with ailments that could be seen by a GP.
“At a cost of at least $600 per visit, that means a $120 million bill for taxpayers,” he said.