Raising the BARR – Week ending 28/6/2024

Ambulance services New South Wales
Raising the Barr


I often get correspondence from the community about how incredibly hard our hospital staff are working, even though they are constantly under enormous pressure. I think that it is a superb characteristic of our community that people can acknowledge and applaud the effort made in some of our key workplaces.

Naturally, I also get some letters of frustration and complaint about the same services. With regards to our hospital services, one of the more common messages of concern that I receive will be about waiting times in the Emergency Departments. Well, the good news is we can all actually play a role in helping to solve this problem.

An Emergency Department, by definition, is for emergencies. The Emergency Department is not a replacement for a GP visit.

And the great news is that we have an alternative to arriving at our Hospital ED – it’s called the Urgent Care Clinic and can be found at the southern end of Vincent Street, Cessnock (opposite the McFarlane Street corner). Its open 8am – 6pm and is FREE if you take your Medicare Card. I needed the help of the Urgent Care Clinic on a Sunday arvo, a few weeks back, and I was in-and-out within 30 mins.

By using Urgent Care Clinics across the Hunter, it will free up space at our Hospital EDs for people that really do have emergencies that require hospital level care.

The same can be said for our Ambulance services. Our wonderful Ambos are often under the pump and stretched pretty thin across the Hunter. One of the disappointing reasons for this is that some people call the Ambulance for something as simple as a hot flush, a toothache or perhaps a headache.

Our Ambulance services should only be called in the most serious of situations. If people call them out for the small stuff, then they might not be available for the really big stuff that comes along. And we can all take some responsibility in this space.

It is not possible to have an endless supply of Emergency Department beds as well as the staff required to service them and it is also not possible to have an endless supply of Ambulance vehicles and staff. But we can have a system that works really well and is ready when people need it, but only if we all take responsibility for not using it when we don’t really need it.