Home | Industry & Reform | AMA slams Labor’s nurse clinic plan

AMA slams Labor’s nurse clinic plan

The Australian Medical Association says the NSW opposition plan for nurse-led medical clinics to treat minor aliments won't relieve pressure on hospital emergency departments.

But Labor leader Luke Foley is adamant the clinics will ease congestion at emergency rooms, and dismissed the concerns of doctors as a bid to defend their turf.

Mr Foley announced a four-year, $40 million plan to build four nurse-led walk-in clinics capable of treating minor illnesses and injuries in a bid to "take the pressure off" hospitals.

The idea was first tried in the UK 15 years ago, and adopted in the ACT in 2010.

But the AMA's NSW branch says sicker patients are the real issue.

AMA NSW president Saxon Smith said the number of people presenting with minor illnesses and injuries is dropping.

"Our emergency departments are under significant pressure but this pressure is coming from sicker patients," he said.

A study of the clinics in the ACT found they either had no impact or made hospitals more clogged, he said.

"There is nothing to suggest Labor's plan will have a different effect in NSW," Dr Smith said in a statement.

Mr Foley dismissed the concerns, saying it was understandable for doctors to "protect their patch".

"I'm not interested in turf wars over work practices," he said.

"I'll stand up and push reforms like this regardless of vested interests taking issue with them."

Mr Foley said the clinics, to be open seven-days, would complement the work of GPs and hospital doctors.

Former ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher defended the clinics, saying demand in hospitals had only been high at first because the nurse-clinics were located on hospital grounds as part of a trial.

When they were moved into the community, flow-on referrals dropped, she said.

The plan is to establish clinics at community health centres in western Sydney, the Illawarra region, and on the central coast.

They will employ 45 nurses and handle minor health issues such as sprained ankles, cuts, burns, stings, stomach upsets, and sore throats.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the experience in the ACT showed the plan would not work.

"Our emergency departments are facing increased demand from people who are sick and need to go to hospital," she said.

"People who don't need to go to hospital should visit their GP."


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