What are Medicare Urgent Care Clinics?
Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) are designed to bridge the gap between the general practice (GP) care and hospital emergency departments, helping to reduce patient wait times and ease pressure on hospitals.
Medicare UCCs are open for extended hours, 7 days a week, for the treatment and care of minor illnesses and injuries. They are staffed by qualified doctors and nurses for walk-in, bulk-billed urgent care.
Two new clinics are now open to patients in the Brisbane South PHN region, located in Browns Plains and Woolloongabba.
Why do we need Medicare Urgent Care Clinics?
Each year, thousands of people present to hospital emergency departments with non-life-threatening conditions that could be treated in the primary care system.
Added to this mix, is a growing number of people living with chronic illnesses who experience acute but non-life-threatening episodes which can escalate to requiring a hospital admission – treatment which may otherwise have been prevented through timely access to urgent intervention and management in the primary care setting.
Consequently, in the 2023-24 May Budget, the Australian Government announced it would fund 58 Medicare UCCs – 11 in Queensland – to complement existing state-run emergency diversion initiatives.
Strategically located close to local hospitals, the Medicare UCCs make it easier for people to get the urgent treatment they need while helping to take pressure off local emergency departments.
Locate your nearest Medicare Urgent Care Clinic
There are 2 Medicare UCCs operating in the Brisbane South PHN region. The first UCC opened in the Logan area on 14 August 2023 and the second opened in South Brisbane on 23 October 2023.
Address: Browns Plains Medical & Dental Centre, 2-10 Grand Plaza Drive, Browns Plains
Opening hours: 7 days a week, 8am – 10pm
Easing pressure on: Logan Hospital
Address: Cornwall Street Medical Centre, Level 4/20 Cornwall St, Woolloongabba
Opening hours: 7 days a week, 8am – 8pm
Additional services provided: Imaging and pathology services
Easing pressure on: Mater, Queensland Children’s and Princess Alexandra Hospitals
What can Medicare UCCs treat?
Medicare UCCs can treat urgent but non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries. They are suitable for conditions that can’t wait for a regular GP appointment but don’t require a trip to emergency, such as minor infections, sprains, urinary tract infections, and minor burns.
Medicare UCCs are not suitable for people with major trauma or complex conditions. These patients will be escalated to their local hospital.
Although Medicare UCCs offer free, walk-in care to all, the funded service is limited to the scope of delivering urgent care. Should a person not require urgent care, they will be referred on to their nominated GP for further assessment and management.
Further information for GPs
Can I refer patients to a Medicare UCC?
Yes. Patients don’t need an appointment. If they are experiencing one of the urgent issues outlined above, you can send patients to your nearest Medicare UCC.
Will patients opt for a UCC instead of a GP?
No. GPs are still the first point of contact for non-emergency, routine and preventative health care.
There are limited MBS items that patients can access at the Medicare UCC. Medicare UCCs won’t be able to see people for things like chronic disease management or preventive health procedures such as cervical screening tests.
If no urgent care is required, patients will be referred back to their GP. If patients don’t have a regular GP, the Medicare UCC will help them find one.
Will I know if one of my patients has received care at a Medicare UCC?
Yes. Any patient attending a Medicare UCC will have a discharge summary issued.
The summary will be:
uploaded into My Health Record (unless requested not to do so by the patient)
electronically provided to the patient’s nominated usual GP/practice within 24 hours.
If electronic transfer is not possible or the patient does not name a usual GP, the patient will be given a hard copy of the discharge summary. The Medicare UCC will also advise the patient’s nominated usual GP of any test results.