Since last week’s horror Budget, which announced a $7 co-payment for all visits to a GP (even by children and pensioners) and that future funding growth would be left to the states, the states have been scrabbling to try and work out how to cope.
NSW’s Health Minister Jillian Skinner has floated the idea of having GPs in Emergency Departments to treat those patients deemed ‘not emergency’ enough to warrant ‘free’ emergency care.
But how exactly would this work? Would it be the triage nurses who had to decide whether a patient went down one corridor to visit – and pay – a GP or instead waited to be seen by the Emergency staff?
Emergency staff – especially nurses – already face lots of angry, frustrated and sometimes violent people in the waiting room. These numbers are bound to swell if there’s a GP co-payement, which will add to the tensions. Then add in an assessment that you shouldn’t be there in the first place and don’t deserve to see the ED doctors but have to pay to see a GP and the level of aggression will surely escalate.
And what if someone with ‘a headache’ has been sent to the GP option, but the GP finds that they have suspicious symptoms (?aneurysm) and sends them back to the ED – do they still have to pay the co-payment?
And what if they’re triaged to the GP, who then fails to order tests, the patient goes home and becomes seriously ill – who is at fault, the triage nurse for making that decision in the first place?
This is a minefield scenario, which complicates an already complicated workplace.
Nurse Uncut invites nurses – especially Emergency Department nurses – to tell us what you think.