Department of Health

Urgent care in regional and rural areas

Key messages

  • The department is currently looking at opportunities to improve rural urgent care access and service delivery for Victorians through the Future of urgent care project.
  • The Urgent care centres: Models of care toolkit informs the ongoing development of rural urgent care delivery, which is multidisciplinary and multifaceted.
  • The models of care describe the current care operating in Victoria’s urgent care centres and the issues to consider when implementing these models.
  • There are 3 levels of descending care in Victorian regional and rural trauma services.
  • Regional trauma services provide resuscitation and stabilisation and may provide definitive care.
  • Urgent care services and primary care services offer limited resuscitation and stabilisation before a patient is transported.

Rural urgent care centres are a key entry point into the Victorian healthcare system for people living in small rural communities. Patients may receive definitive care at a rural urgent care centre, whereby all treatment required at the time has occurred. That is, care that meets their clinical needs and is within scope of the clinician and the rural health service is provided.

Alternatively, their healthcare needs may require referral to their general practitioner (GP) or transfer to a higher level of care at a larger health service or a specialist/tertiary metropolitan health service. 

Future of urgent care project

The department is currently looking at opportunities to improve rural urgent care access and service delivery for Victorians through the Future of urgent care project.

Urgent care centres help ensure all Victorians have fair access to timely, safe and quality urgent or emergency care. However, despite their strengths, urgent care centres are facing wide-ranging challenges to sustainable service delivery, such as workforce availability and variability in capacity and capability. This can impact rural communities and put pressure on the healthcare system.

Through the Future of urgent care project, we are developing a strategic framework to maximise the impact of innovative local solutions that urgent care centres have put in place over the years. We will also explore new opportunities to address existing and emerging challenges.

The framework will support the statewide coordination of a range of initiatives to improve the sustainable and effective delivery of rural urgent and emergency care for Victorians.

For more information on the Future of urgent care project, contact healthservicesimprovement@health.vic.gov.au 

July 2022 project update – draft strategic framework

In April, we consulted the sector to identify the problems facing rural urgent care. We also sought input from consumers on their lived experience of rural urgent and emergency care. 

We received a strong response from both groups. Respondents took part in surveys (247 sector responses, 182 consumer responses), in a workshop (23 participants) and consumer focus groups (6 participants). 

We've used these results to develop a draft strategic framework. This gives us a roadmap outlining key focus areas and initiatives to address to ensure the sustainability of urgent care. 

In June, we asked for feedback from the sector and consumers about the draft framework. We received almost 80 survey responses from the sector. Additionally, we held a small focus group with consumers who had provided input in April. 

Feedback from these consultations is currently being considered and incorporated into the draft framework. The department will seek to finalise the framework over the coming months.

Urgent care centres: models of care toolkit

The Models of care toolkit informs the ongoing development of rural urgent care centre models of care and the way healthcare is delivered in the rural urgent care setting. The models of care are multidisciplinary and multifaceted. All models are required to meet the Victorian Government’s performance standards and clinical governance framework, which incorporate both quality and safety standards.

This resource will assist rural health services in the development and review process of urgent care by providing a description of the current models of care operating in rural urgent care centres and the issues that must be considered when implementing these models in a rural health service setting.

Regional trauma services

Victorian regional and rural trauma services are categorised into 3 descending levels of care that service rural and remote communities.
These are:

  • regional trauma services
  • urgent care services
  • primary care services.

Regional and rural trauma services also provide patient transfer to a major trauma service (MTS) through Adult Retrieval Victoria.

Regional trauma services (RTS) are located in major regional centres and receive appropriate referrals from surrounding catchment areas, providing a regional focus in trauma management.

RTS provide resuscitation and stabilisation of major trauma patients prior to their transfer to an MTS. They also provide definitive care for a limited number of major trauma patients where their injuries are assessed, in agreement with an MTS, as not requiring a transfer.

Urgent care services – trauma

Urgent care services (UCS) are located in small rural communities where higher levels of trauma care are not available.

UCS provides initial resuscitation and a limited stabilisation capacity prior to early transfer to an RTS or MTS.

Primary care services – trauma

Primary care services (PCS) are located in small rural communities and provide limited resuscitation prior to early transfer to an RTS or MTS.

Reviewed 22 July 2022

Health.vic

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