Ballarat residents seeking urgent medical care when it’s not an emergency will soon have access to care outside emergency departments, thanks to the opening of a Priority Primary Care Centre (PPCC) in Ballarat next week. PPCCs are GP-led services that aim to reduce demand on emergency departments by providing an alternative service for non-emergency conditions.
UFS Medical was awarded the contract to operate the PPCC which will be located downstairs at its Windermere Street clinic.
The Ballarat centre is one of 25 PPCCs announced for Victoria as part of an initiative by the Victorian Government to offer care for people with conditions that require urgent attention but not an emergency response.
The Ballarat PPCC is the first one outside of metropolitan Melbourne to open. The initiative is being funded through Western Victoria Primary Health Network.
Chief Executive Officer of UFS Dispensaries Matt Vagg said “Originally the aim was to have this centre open before Christmas, but with great stakeholder collaboration and a lot of hard work, we are thrilled that we are able to start providing this much needed service for the community from Monday, 31 October. The centre will initially be open from 10am to 8pm on weekdays and 10am to 2pm Saturdays. We are currently working with Council on a new permit for an extension of these hours and we look forward to being open longer in the future to meet the needs of the Ballarat community.”
Andrew Giddy, Acting CEO of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN), said
“People suffering conditions such as mild infections, fractures and burns will be able to receive treatment from the Ballarat PPCC instead of having to wait in emergency at the Ballarat Base Hospital. WVPHN welcomes the addition of the Ballarat PPCC to primary health support services in western Victoria.”
Ben Kelly, Chief Operating Officer Hospitals at Grampians Health said he very pleased the centre is opening well ahead of the busy festive season and summer holidays.
“It is reassuring that our community can attend a clinic when they have an injury or ailment that needs attention, but not an emergency response. While we are mindful of the limited working hours of the centre presently, we believe this is a positive addition to our efforts to impart quick and quality care to the local community.
“Grampians Health have collaborated with UFS Medical throughout the COVID response, and this partnership is another step in working together to serve our community.”
The facility will be staffed by a team of GPs and nurses, and patients will be triaged on arrival to determine their suitability for the service. The PPCC will treat patients with urgent conditions like lacerations or cuts requiring stitches, basic fractures, minor burns, rashes, mild respiratory conditions, ear nose and throat infections, other infections, and gastroenteritis.
Patients requiring non-urgent regular medical care will be redirected to their regular GP for ongoing management.
Patients experiencing emergency or life-threatening conditions should still attend Grampians Health’s Ballarat Base Hospital Emergency Department, on the corner of Drummond and Mair streets. This includes conditions such as severe breathing difficulties leaving the person unable to speak, stroke symptoms, anaphylaxis, significant bleeding, deep or large burns, and major breaks or major fractures.
Deakin University will conduct a study on how PPCCs can reduce emergency department wait times and improve timely and quality care for patients.