Emergency departments (EDs) across NSW are currently under significant pressure due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases (which has also caused ongoing staff unavailability) and now a spike in flu cases.
If you are seriously injured, seriously unwell or have a life-threatening medical emergency, you should call Triple Zero or attend an emergency department without delay.
However, it is important for people to utilise other health services such as their GPs and specialist centres for chronic conditions to ensure emergency departments are kept for emergencies.
“This allows us to have more access and space to see the patients who are experiencing emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, and so on,” explains Westmead Hospital emergency physician Dr Kavita Varshney.
If you are living with a chronic condition such as asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease, diabetes or hypertension, it’s important to have a GP who is monitoring these conditions and who is providing ongoing review and care; keeping track of where you’re up to, ensuring you know what medications should be taken if things get worse and when to present to the ED.
“Likewise for people who have been experiencing symptoms for weeks and months, such as rashes and musculoskeletal issues; these conditions should be reviewed and monitored by a GP.”
If you are not sure if you should go to an emergency department, services such as Healthdirect.gov.au/symptomchecker or Healthdirect 24/7 – 1800 022 222, are available for free on for fast, expert advice from registered nurses on what to do next.
“The hospital and ED are here for you, and if you need to access them, please do – we’re just trying to make sure everyone is getting equitable and timely access to their healthcare,” says Kavita.
“If you need referrals to specialists, your GP can absolutely help with that.
“Save ambulances and emergency departments for saving lives.”