Evaluation critical as more UCCs announced

3 minute read

Mark Butler has promised rigorous review of the urgent care clinic model ‘to make sure we get things right’.

The Health Minister Mark Butler has promised a “rigorous” evaluation of the UCC model of care, while announcing providers for four of the five Medicare urgent care clinics promised for South Australia.

The clinics are expected to begin seeing patients from October, with all to be open by the end of the year, according to the government announcement/ Clinics will be open for extended hours, seven days a week and offer walk-in care that is fully bulkbilled.

Mr Butler said evaluation was an important part of operating the urgent care clinics.

“We want to make sure that we evaluate these very carefully, because this is quite a new model for Australia,” he said.

“It has operated for many years in New Zealand very successfully and in many countries in the northern hemisphere, but we do recognise we’re going to have to evaluate this very carefully to make sure we get things right.

“And we’re going to obviously monitor the wait times.”

Rather than build new clinics the federal government is partnering with state governments, hospital networks, existing general practices and primary health networks to provide the UCCs.

“We made a decision when we created this program that we wouldn’t go out and seek to build new clinics and potentially set up operations in competition with the existing general practices,” said Mr Butler.

“What we do instead is go out to existing practices and ask them whether they were interested in taking their practice to a new level.

“We asked those practices ‘if we provide you with additional money, would you be willing to expand your service to walk-in patients seven days a week, extended hours, and importantly on a fully bulk billed basis’.

“We work very carefully with state governments, particularly hospital systems and also with the general practice sector to make sure we’ve got the operational protocols right.

“You can’t walk into one of these clinics if you’ve got a run-of-the-mill health issue that you’ve been meaning to check on for days or weeks even. This will only be available for people who have an urgent need for non-life-threatening care.”

The four SA clinics will be:

  • Marion Domain Medical and Dental Centre will be established as the Marion Medicare UCC.
  • Old Port Road Medical and Dental Centre will be established as the Western Medicare UCC.
  • Elizabeth Medical and Dental Centre will be established as the Elizabeth Medicare UCC.
  • Mount Gambier Family Health will be established as the Mount Gambier Medicare UCC.

A fifth clinic is to be established in the outer southern suburbs of Adelaide. Final contract negotiations are under way with an announcement to be made soon. Adelaide PHN, the Country South Australia PHN and the South Australian Government will work in partnership with the federal government to support the establishment of the SA clinics.

There are currently 22 Medicare UCCs operating, with two more due to open shortly in the Northern Territory. The four South Australian clinics announced today will bring the number to 28. A total of 58 will open across Australia by the end of 2023.

A full list of operating UCCs is available here.

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