26 September 2023

Walk-in-centres OK for one-year-olds

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Canberra’s nurse-led Walk-in Centres are now treating children as young as one-year-old as well as older kids with minor injuries and illnesses.

Announced by the Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith the Walk-in Centres were previously only able to treat children from two years old.

“This change provides more options for families with young children to seek local, free treatment for minor ailments, while continuing to divert young children away from our emergency departments where appropriate,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“Since first opening in 2013, our nurse-led Walk-in Centres have successfully complemented existing health care services across the community and remain very popular, with recent presentations close to 7,000 patients per month in the first six months of this year,” she said.

“Staff at Walk-in Centres can treat many common childhood conditions and injuries, like simple cuts that need a few sutures or dressing changes, ear infections, gastro and minor bumps and wound infections, with no appointment necessary.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said the decision to treat children from one year of age at the Walk-in Centres was informed by feedback from patients and staff, as well as emergency department presentation data.

She said 18 months of research and interviews found that there was little difference between minor common conditions and the course of treatment for two-year-olds at Walk-in Centres and one-year-olds at emergency departments.

“We know from the research that the treatment protocols and common minor conditions treated across both ages and both settings are very similar,” the Minister said.

“While we have a wealth of paediatric knowledge in our Walk-in Centres already, our Advanced Practitioner Nurses have undertaken additional training to support this change,” she said.

“Thank you to our amazing Walk-in Centre teams for their great work and the excellent health care they continue to provide to our community.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said children with serious or complex care needs, or whose symptoms did not improve, should seek medical care from a GP or attend an emergency department.

She said Walk-in Centres would also redirect patients to GPs or emergency departments where appropriate.

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