Sick people will be treated at home by a GP – instead of going to hospital – under a pilot program aimed at reducing emergency department workloads. Hoping to ease the increased pressure on hospitals from the current flu epidemic, the State Government unveiled the Winter Emergency Response Team yesterday.
When an ambulance is called, paramedics will make an initial assessment of the patient.
If they do not need to be taken to hospital, a “response team” comprising a doctor and intensive care paramedic will be called to treat them at home.
“We believe it’s a creative response to the pressures that are occurring in our emergency rooms,” Ageing Minister Jay Weatherill said. He stressed that “the patient’s health and safety comes first” and people would be transported to hospital if necessary.
Mr Weatherill said the four-week pilot program, starting today in the southern suburbs, could be extended across Adelaide if successful.
But the Australian Medical Association has criticised the project and lashed out at the Government for failing to consult it.
AMA state president Dr Christopher Cain questioned how the trial would work when there was “already a shortage” of GPs in the southern suburbs. SA Ambulance Service medical director Dr Hugh Grantham said all patients would receive a call back by the ambulance service within 25 minutes to check on them until the response team arrived.
No more than four cases would be “in the queue” at any one time.
Trevor Jew, from the GP Connect locum service, said the program would provide better community health care – one of the key recommendations of the Generational Health Review.
Opposition health spokesman Dean Brown said: “This is no different from the GP home care link that was established by (then state Health Minister) Michael Armitage in the northern suburbs in 1996 and which was continued when I was Health Minister.”