Visit your GP, not the hospital, says new Govt ad campaign

A NEW marketing campaign aims to improve Emergency Department wait times by encouraging patients to visit their GP, instead of hospital Emergency Departments.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said Queensland Health had begun planning the campaign to reduce the thousands of unnecessary ED presentations to Queensland hospitals every year.

"We have a strong commitment to improving frontline health services and ensuring that Queenslanders get the very best of care," Mr Springborg said.

"In Queensland on average, approximatelya third of people visiting an ED could be seen by a GP without compromising their health outcome.

"This campaign is important as part of our ongoing reform of health and will continue the progress we have already made to rebuild the health system, left in a mess by Labor. "

Mr Springborg said in 2013-14, nearly 33 per cent of all visits were GP-type presentations - more than 430,000 people - who wanted to see a specialist emergency doctor, when there were after hours GP clinics closing because there were no patients.

The Minister said the campaign was inspired by overseas and interstate advertisements, including the National Health Service in the UK, and the West Australian government.

"These campaigns have managed to explain the importance of getting it right, even in a humorous way. With the number of non-urgent presentations to EDs, we need to look at doing something similar," Mr Springborg said.

"When you look at the type of complaints some people are presenting with, there may also be many people underestimating what type of cases their GP can actually handle.

"For example, thousands of Queenslanders have presented with a toothache, finger strain or sprain, constipation, a headache, or neck pain.

"Parents have even brought in a child with nappy rash, and some people complain of not being able to sleep.

"Others have simply come looking for a medical certificate to get off work or get their prescription refilled.

"This is simply not acceptable anymore. An Emergency Department is for people with serious, life-threatening or potentially life-threatening conditions, who need urgent medical assistance."

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