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GPs to work in Thames Emergency Department

GPs to work in Thames Emergency Department

Six general practitioners (GPs) will join forces with Thames Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) next month to help provide treat and discharge patients on weekends.

The initiative is a three-month pilot, funded by Waikato DHB, aimed at reducing the after hours demand on GPs and assist with the increasing ED workload, particularly over summer.

Thames Hospital serves a regional population of approximately 35,000 and a summer influx of in excess of 150,000 people.

The Thames Medical Centre GPs will each work one Saturday every six weeks, replacing the centre’s weekend clinics.

Patients presenting to the hospital will be assessed and triaged as normal and then see a GP or ED doctor, although they are encouraged to continue using the after hours’ telephone triage service first and always dial 111 in an emergency.

“Residents can phone their medical centre after hours and they will automatically be put through to a highly trained nursing professional who can direct them to the most appropriate and timely care,” said Waikato DHB change manager Grant O’Brien.

“They should also continue to see their own doctor during the week for all routine medical care and repeat prescriptions.”

Waikato DHB and Thames Hospital worked with Thames Medical Centre to develop and implement the pilot starting Saturday 8 January.

“This project is part of a programme of work to develop new models and relationships to join up the rural workforce and maintain a range of essential local services and improve recruitment and retention of GPs in the area,” Mr O’Brien said

“It is a step towards establishing integrated primary and secondary services in Thames that will not only serve the community well, but health professionals too.”

Ruth Large, clinical director of Thames Hospital’s Emergency Department is looking forward to a closer alliance with Thames Medical Centre GPs.

“I hope that a pilot study of this nature will add valuable information as to how future services may better coordinate in an effort to make the best use of our local resources.”

Other Waikato DHB initiatives include a St John advanced paramedic working in Taumarunui Hospital’s ED, and the after hours telephone triage service now available throughout the Waikato region.

Mr O’Brien said if this pilot is successful, GP weekend rosters could be considered for other Waikato DHB rural hospitals.

This pilot will help identify any issues involved with GPs working in rural EDs.

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