With hospital health care workers busier than ever, it's never been more important to leave emergency rooms for emergencies only.
But what do you do if you've got a medical condition and your regular GP is closed?
That's where the South Western Sydney Primary Health Network's new My Emergency Doctor service comes in.
The new service gives patients the opportunity to access emergency specialist doctors for diagnosis and treatment of urgent, non-emergency medical conditions after-hours and on weekends.
My Emergency Doctor is available at no cost to the patient via phone or video.
SWSPHN chief executive Dr Keith McDonald said the service would complement the existing care provided by the patient's regular GP - who should always be the first point of contact for non-emergency medical concerns.
"It's natural to be anxious and unsure where to turn when you or a loved one needs medical care after your regular GP's practice has closed for the night or weekend," he said.
"Our message is: there are options available besides the emergency room at your local hospital.
"My Emergency Doctor is convenient, accessible and no appointment is needed. Importantly, the service provides you with continuity of care because, with your consent, your nominated GP can be sent a summary of your consultation."
Some of the conditions which may be suitable for My Emergency Doctor consultations include abdominal pain, headache, head injury, concussion, flu, fever, rashes, bites and stings, back pain, sore throat, diarrhoea, vomiting, acute injury, headache, urinary tract infections, allergic reaction, sports injuries and work injuries.
The specialist doctors can assess the conditions, prescribe medication, refer the patients for X-rays and pathology, and even arrange emergency transport to hospital if required.
They can also consult in multiple languages via the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National). All patients need to do is communicate the language they speak, their contact number and Medicare number in English and a translator will be arranged.
My Emergency Doctor founder Dr Justin Bowra - who has worked in both Liverpool and Bankstown hospitals - said the service had worked in collaboration with Gps and Primary Health Networks nationally since 2016.
"I am thrilled that our telemedicine service will now be assisting the diverse population of south western Sydney with their medical needs in the after-hours period when they cannot reach their regular GP," he said.
Step by Step
After hours, if you are sick, injured or need non-emergency medical care you should:
- First, contact your regular GP to check if they are open or have after hours arrangements in place.
- Otherwise, download the Healthdirect app and use the 'Find a health service' section to check which local practices are open near you.
- If these options are not readily available to you, contact My Emergency Doctor for free, after hours consultations Monday to Friday, 6pm to 8am; Saturday, 12pm to 8am; Sunday and Public Holidays, 24 hours. To access the service, call the hotline on 1800 001 033 or download the 'My Emergency Dr' app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Patients should enter their postcode when the app prompts for a 'PARTNER CODE'. A full list of eligible postcodes is available on the My Emergency Doctor website, covering the following LGAs: Bankstown, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly. Visit the My Emergency Doctor website to find more information.
- Visit SWSPHN's website to find other after hours services that it funds in South Western Sydney.
If you are suffering a time-critical emergency such as chest pain, breathing difficulty, uncontrolled bleeding or have been in a major accident call 000 without delay.