More ways to get treated when you’re sick or injured

PPCC news story, doctor and patient talking
  19 February 2024  Star Weekly   

This article was first published in Wyndham Star Weekly on 17 February 2024.

Written by Christopher Carter, CEO, NWMPHN

When you’ve hurt yourself or you’re suddenly feeling crook enough to be worried, finding help can be a bit of a challenge.

General practices in our region are all very busy and sometimes you might not be able to book an appointment with your regular doctor for a few days – and that’s a concern when you believe you need to see someone pretty quickly.

There’s always the emergency department at the nearest hospital, of course. These are also always very busy, and we all know that the hard-working doctors and nurses there see the most severely injured or ill first.

That is the way it should be, of course, but it also means that if you think you’ve maybe cracked your collarbone or developed a stomach bug, then you might be in for a long wait to get seen.

That’s why Priority Primary Care Centres – which started opening a year or so ago – have turned out to be very good things.

PPCCs, as they’re known, sit midway between general practices and emergency departments. They are set up to treat people who need urgent, but not lifesaving, care.

They’re open 7 days a week, over extended hours, take walk-in visitors, and provide free treatment even if you don’t have a Medicare card.

Every PPCC is linked directly with a hospital emergency department, and has other services, such as pathology or imaging, either in the same building or very nearby.

Honestly, what’s not to like?

In Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs there are 10 PPCCs operating. This includes new ones in Carlton and Melton, both of which opened in the past couple of months. Across Victoria there are 29.

They are still fairly new additions to the health care landscape, so many people still aren’t all that familiar with what they do (lots!) and who can use them (everybody!).

It surely won’t be too long, though, before we all simply think of them as another regular option for getting help, along with general practices, emergency departments, the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department, Nurse-on-Call and your local pharmacist.

On behalf of the Australian and State governments, our organisation – North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network – plays quite a big role in setting up PPCCs across our region and more broadly.

We’re very proud of that, because this is a major change to health services that is making a big difference to people’s lives. PPCCs take a bit of the pressure of local doctors and hospitals, and get more people feeling better more quickly.

Across the state more than 300,000 people have visited PPCCs since they started opening, with that number growing steadily each month. Do you think we’ll hit one million before 2024 is out? There’s no way to know, of course, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

So next time you’re not feeling so good and can’t get into see your doctor, remember you have an extra option these days.

In the north and west there are PPCCs in Craigieburn, Carlton, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Ponds, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Richmond, Sunbury, Sunshine and Werribee.

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