Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

    A big move to get kids out of the ER

    All households in NSW can now access virtual emergency care consultations for sick children, in an effort to reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.

    The virtualKIDS Urgent Care Service was fully expanded to all local health districts from January 19, with more than 500 families expected to benefit each month.

    Previously it was only available in the South Eastern Sydney, Western Sydney and Hunter New England local health districts.

    To access the all-day service, affected families can call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222, before being referred to an audiovisual consultation with a nurse, which they can complete on a mobile or computer. The consultations are available for children up to 16 years of age and free for Medicare card holders.

    The expanded virtualKIDS Emergency Department is expected to be used by more than 500 households every month. Image: iStock

    Although patients can be referred to the emergency room if necessary, two out of three sick children can be treated alternatively.

    The sick child can also be referred to a consultation with a pediatrician expert by virtualKIDS, or advised to report to the local GP or urgent care center.

    Nurses can also prescribe medications such as Children’s Panadol.

    NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said the expanded services would allow families to access care more quickly and avoid unnecessary trips to hospital.

    Parents just want their children to get the timely care they need and deserve,” he said.

    “We know we can do better than keeping children and parents waiting in hospitals for longer periods of time.

    “My priority as Minister of Health is to embrace new ways to improve faster access to quality care and treatment for our children.”

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