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Thames GPs change shifts in ED
GPs working in Thames Hospital’s Emergency Department on Saturdays will change to work the afternoon shift from this weekend.
The three-month pilot aimed at reducing the after hours demand on GPs and assisting with the increasing ED workload has now reached the halfway point.
From this Saturday, the Thames Medical Centre GPs will work in ED from 12 noon to 6pm.
For the first half of the pilot that began 8 January, GPs worked 10am – 4pm.
Waikato DHB change manager Grant O’Brien said the change allows the pilot to measure the impact of GPs in the department across two busy times of the day.
“We want to ensure that if this becomes a permanent service, the clinic is held at a time that meets demand and eases the most pressure on ED,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said the pilot, a first for New Zealand, has been a success so far with an average of 20 people seen at each Saturday clinic.
“Each of these people have been triaged by hospital staff and found to be suitable for a 'fast-tracked' GP consult.
“They’ve then been seen well within triage times and none have had to be referred back to the ED.”
Feedback from patients, GPs and ED staff has been positive.
“ED staff are enjoying working alongside the GPs who in turn feel well-supported by their ED colleagues,” Mr O’Brien said.
Mr O’Brien said people are encouraged see their own doctor during the week for all routine medical care and repeat prescriptions, and the telephone triage service remains available for after hours’ advice.
“Thames Hospital’s Emergency Department continues to be primarily for emergencies.
“Call your local primary care service or GP before going to the ED to speak with a registered nurse who will advise you on the best course of action for your health need."
The pilot replaces Saturday clinics at Thames Medical Centre, and is a step towards establishing integrated primary and secondary services in Thames, Mr O’Brien said.
“The sustainability of rural health services requires greater integration between all health providers and this pilot is an example where GPs and rural ED staff are working side by side to meet the needs of their communities."
A decision on whether to continue the pilot will be made before the pilot ends on 26 March.
For more information visit www.waikatodhb.govt.nz/Thames
Date: 23 February 2011