How thousands skip hospital wait queues

Nurse smiling with patient at home - generic aged care
Elderly people are the big winners in the opening of a new urgent care service in Sydney’s southwest.

Tens of thousands of patients have avoided the need to go to the emergency department as the NSW government expands access to urgent care services across the state.

Health Minister Ryan Park released the data as he celebrated ahead of the official opening of the South Western Sydney Local Heath District geriatric urgent care service on Wednesday.

Nurses and physiotherapists will be easier to access for over 65s as part of the outreach service to provide treatment for people who are assessed as medically safe to be managed in their own home.

Health Minister Ryan Park says urgent care services are diverting people away from emergency departments. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

“It is the 16th urgent care service that we have rolled out or expanded across NSW,” he said.

“But this is just the beginning, and urgent care services have the capacity to divert tens of thousands more.”

In total, 41,000 patients have walked through the door since the services were rolled out in mid 2023, diverting non-life-threatening presentations to EDs.

NCA NewsWire analysis suggests that in more than a year the services would divert 117,000 people from under-pressure EDs.

young nurse hugging senior man in wheelchair. Unhappy elderly man. Aged care. Generic, Thinkstock
The over 65s will benefit with the new service. Picture: Thinkstock

More than 1.4 million people who presented to NSW EDs had non-urgent (rashes, minor aches and pains) or semi-urgent cases (sprained ankle, migraine, earache) in 2023.

About 100,000 of those cases were in Sydney’s southwest.

Mr Park said urgent care services would have patients get access to the care they need quicker “without the stress of visiting an ED”.

“Improving access to healthcare is a ministerial priority of mine, and I am really pleased with the results we have seen with other urgent care services across NSW.