8 November 2023

New Urgent Care Clinic opens in Hobart during inquiry into overwhelmed hospital system

| James Day
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The entrance to the Ochre Medical Centre in Hobart, with an orange wall and sign of the logo up on it.

Ochre Medical Centre is the site of the new Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) on Liverpool Street in Hobart. Photo: Ochre Health.

Hobart now has a second Medicare Urgent Care Clinic as part of the Tasmanian and Federal Government’s efforts to improve the state’s healthcare system.

The new facility comes as submissions reopen on a parliamentary inquiry into reports of ramping and bed block, which have severely overwhelmed paramedics and emergency departments.

So far the Select Committee on Transfer of Care Delays has received letters from the public that detail patients waiting for hours for treatment, with ambulances lined up on ramps and emergency departments desperately working to clear beds.

The Albanese and Rockliff governments have already rolled out a Medicare UCC in Hobart and Launceston alongside Primary Health Tasmania, with a new one due to be operational in Devonport by the end of the year. Within a few weeks the two open UCCs saw more than 3300 patients.

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“I’ve heard from people right here in Hobart how difficult it can be to access medical care when they have a pressing health concern, but they can’t get in to see a GP,” said Tasmania’s Minister for Health Guy Barnett.

“Most people in this situation end up in the emergency department, or, worse, they simply go without care.

“The Rockliff Government is committed to finding innovative solutions to ensure Tasmanians get the right healthcare, in the right place, at the right time.”

Since 30 October, Ochre Medical Centre has been operating as a UCC with extended hours over seven days of the week, providing fully bulk billed walk-in care from highly qualified doctors and nurses. The hope is for the additional clinic to ease pressure on the Royal Hobart Hospital emergency department, so they can better deal with higher priority emergencies over the 40 per cent of patients coming in for non-urgent or semi-urgent care.

“When you have a deep cut, or when your child breaks their arm, you can head straight to the clinic rather than spend hours in the hospital waiting room,” said the Member for Franklin Julie Collins.

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“The Medicare UCCs will help take pressure off the Royal Hobart Hospital and its hard-working doctors and nurses, so that they can focus on higher-priority emergencies and life-saving care.”

According to the federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, Hobart’s new Medicare UCC will give local families the ability to access a doctor or nurse, imaging, and pathology services at short notice.

The stand-alone facility is located on Liverpool street with parking and under-cover ambulance access, so patients can quickly reach the staff with firm experience in emergency medicine.

UCCs around the country report that almost a third of patients are under the age of 15 and visit on the weekends, and during weekdays over 20 per cent take place after 6 pm.

Ochre Health Chairman Dr Ross Lamplugh said they already operate a private UCC in Queensland, but are “delighted” to work with the governments and “better support the local community”.

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