Emergency Q programme helps people access care sooner
The introduction of the Emergency Q (EQ) system at Southland Hospital late last year has helped ease pressure in the Emergency Department by diverting some patients to be seen free of charge in general practice on the same day.
Introduced in September 2022, patients who come to ED with conditions that can be safely managed in primary care are provided a voucher for a free same-day GP appointment.
The initiative is a partnership between the WellSouth Primary Health Network and Southland Hospital and operates Monday to Friday.
Between September and December last year 289 patients were transferred to primary care via EQ. Amongst the most common presentations were wound complication (18.6%), cough (8.3%), earache symptoms (5.8%) and skin-related complaints (5.8%).
Simon Donlevy, Te Whatu Ora General Manager for Southland Hospital says the Emergency Department continues to utilise EQ to redirect, at no cost to the patient, appropriate presentations to general practice to allow treatment to be provided. It means people with non-emergency concerns are seen sooner, and also frees up emergency clinician time which means shorter waits for all other patients.
“This has been an important initiative between Southland Hospital, WellSouth and Invercargill general practices.”
Joseph Davidson, West Invercargill Health Practice Manager, says that patients transferred to the practice have been very appreciative to get the care they need without having to wait in the Emergency Department.
“The patients we have seen are very happy to be referred through EQ,” says Joseph. “West Invercargill Health is unique in the services that we can offer. Our knowledge and experience means we can help with coughs and colds right up to lacerations and soft tissue injuries. We have already helped people with several wounds requiring suture closure, soft tissue injuries requiring stabilisation with a brace, as well as medical ailments such as flu-like illnesses.”
More than a one-off appointment, the EQ referral is also helping give unenrolled patients the benefit of access to ongoing programmes of care through enrolment with a general practice, including routine and preventative care and eligibility for funded screening programmes such as breast, cervical and bowel cancer screening.
“We have enrolled patients sent from EQ and have capacity to continue to enrol,” Joseph says.
There are several practices in Invercargill and Southland accepting new patients. Anyone looking to enrol with a GP can call WellSouth on 0800 478 256 for assistance.