Urgent care centre set to fast track emergency treatment at Auburn Hospital

Auburn Hospital emergency department staff (front) director Romesh Singam, nurse Emily Godden and staff specialist Kevin Lai, with (rear) urgent care centre Dr Heather New.

A new model of care at Auburn Hospital emergency department is aiming to ensure patients are treated more quickly and safely.

The urgent care centre was officially opened on Tuesday morning, allowing patients who present with semi-urgent conditions to see a doctor sooner.

All patients are assessed upon presenting to the emergency department and are streamed based on the urgency and complexity of their needs.

The new model of care, which has been operating at Westmead and Blacktown hospitals for two years, means less urgent and complex patients will no longer be waiting in the same queue as acute patients.

Emergency depatment director Romesh Singam sees an urgent care centre patient, Muhammad Imran, while nurse Emily Godden works in the ED.

Auburn Hospital emergency department director Dr Romesh Singam said November 2018 to March 2019 was the busiest period, year on year, in the department’s history, which fits with trends seen across the state.

“We went back to the drawing board to find a model of care that would work in this era of seeing 90-100 patients every day,” Dr Singam said.

“Three key improvements we aim to see with this model are decreasing wait times to care, improved times for administering pain relief, and better communication throughout the entirety of patients’ experience.”

One of the first patients treated under the new model yesterday was Muhammad Imran, who presented with pain and discomfort caused by tonsillitis.

Muhammad was given advice on how best to manage his tonsillitis symptoms, and what red flags to look out for that would necessitate a return to the ED.

He was seen by the urgent care centre doctor and discharged within 40 minutes – well within the two hour guideline for a non-urgent patient to begin care.

Dr Singam said he believed the new model of care would have benefits for patients and staff.

“This will obviously have benefits for patients streamed to the urgent care centre as this is a proven model at other ED’s. We also expect to see benefits for our more unwell patients as our acute beds will be used more efficiently which should improve safety and decrease wait times,” he said.

“There will be benefits for our staff as well. We are all here to deliver good care, that’s the reason we do this job. Improving wait times will mean our patients are more satisfied. There is clear evidence this subsequently results in higher staff satisfaction, less burnout and better staff retention.”

The new model of care means patients who don't need a bed aren't stuck in the queue.
Emergency department director Romesh Singam, nurse unit manager Naresh Kc, nursing and midwifery director Kate Murphy, and director of operations Debbie Sharpe.

Dr Singam emphasized this new model would not be possible without the energy of the ED staff who were instrumental in taking ownership and implementing it, the support from the executive team at Auburn, the Whole of Hospital Programme and NSW Health.

The 2018-19 budget for Western Sydney Local Health District is approximately $1.8 billion, an increase of over $78.1 million on the 2017-18 annualised budget.

We encourage patients with less urgent conditions such as minor illnesses, rashes, aches and pains to visit their GP. They can also phone healthdirect Australia (1800 022 222), a free telephone advice line staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.