Patients turned away from urgent care clinic

An Adelaide Urgent Care Clinic set up to reduce pressure on overcrowded emergency departments is turning away patients when too busy, amid a ramping crisis and strain on the public health system.

Jan 09, 2024, updated Jan 09, 2024

Graeme Odgers, 59, suffered a minor wound while gardening on Monday, and when he couldn’t get in to see his fully booked GP, was advised to attend the Marion Urgent Care Clinic.

Odgers told InDaily that when he arrived at Marion Domain at noon, which houses the clinic, there was a handwritten sign on the main door of the medical centre saying walk-in patients were not being admitted. When he asked the reception attendant he was told the next urgent care clinic appointment would be at 5:30pm and was advised to go to the Flinders emergency department.

Odgers and his wife Simone called and visited a number of other medical centres but could not get in, before eventually treating the wound themselves.

“We went to the chemist and got bandages to put over the top of it, wrapped a bandage around his finger, and are just hoping he doesn’t knock it until he can see the GP,” said Simone Odgers.

“We were told to go to the emergency department, but we knew we’d be waiting so long with all the ramping. If they’re ramping ambulances and ambulances have the priority, then the people sitting inside are going to be there for hours.

“They [UCCs] are meant to be taking injuries like [Graeme’s] to take pressure off emergency departments.”

Marion Domain Clinic today told InDaily that it is accepting walk-ins, but has to turn patients away when it gets too busy.

The Marion clinic is one of five in South Australia opened to reduce pressure on emergency departments.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, who held a press conference at the Port Road Urgent Care Clinic today, said the clinics were achieving their goal.

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“The Medicare UCCs mean people across the country over the summer who need urgent but not acute care, can get it quickly even if it’s outside standard hours,” he said.

“The full network of 58 clinics is operating right across the country, with highly qualified doctors and nurses treating local patients and working to reduce overcrowding in emergency departments.”

The Albanese Government committed to opening 58 clinics before the end of 2023, with the last two fully bulk-billed centres opening at the end of 2023, including one in Morphett Vale.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story had an image of a handwritten note on the front door of Marion Domain, that was mistakenly thought to refer to the urgent care clinic housed inside the medical centre.

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