Portland residents told to skip the ED, talk to GP

Earaches, stomach aches and migraines are some of the non-urgent issues filling Portland’s urgent care centre. 

An increasing number of people are seeking help from the centre for medical issues that could have been dealt with by a general practitioner. 

During July, 642 people presented at the urgent care centre, up 20 per cent from the same month three years ago.

Portland District Health chief executive Chris Giles said the influx of people was putting pressure on the urgent care centre.

She said recent changes to GP clinics in Portland could have led to the higher numbers.

“We are seeing a lot of people at the urgent care centre who should see their GP,” Ms Giles said.

“If their regular GP isn’t available, we urge residents to talk to the practice manager to find an alternative.

“If people present to the urgent care centre with minor issues that should be dealt with by their GP, they can expect long waits while more urgent matters are given priority.”

Last month there were 327 presentations for triage four category conditions, up from 60 the year before. 

Triage four conditions are semi-urgent conditions that include mild bleeding, a sprained ankle, abdominal pain, migraines and earaches. Most people presenting in this category were discharged to go home.

Ms Giles said an overload of less serious patients could jeopardise the centre’s ability to see people within prescribed waiting times, which were usually quicker than in other similar sized hospitals. 

The centre usually has more presentations during December and January when there are more visitors to Portland and the busiest days are Sunday and Monday.