St John Urgent Care information for patients
Existing St John Urgent Care centres are located in Armadale, Cockburn Central and Joondalup. New centres will be opening in Cannington and Midland in early 2021, and Osborne Park and Mandurah in early 2022. Below is information for health professionals about these centres.
What is a St John Urgent Care centre?
St John Urgent Care is designed to treat urgent but non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Patients with these conditions often go to an Emergency Department but rarely get admitted to hospital.
St John Urgent Care centres are large medical centres which have x-ray on site, as well as the equipment and staff needed to manage broken bones, wounds that need stitches etc. St John Urgent Care is also suited to treating illnesses that are not life-threatening but come on quickly and make you feel miserable (stomach bugs, tonsillitis, kidney infections etc.).
These centres look like a ‘mini-ED’. St John Urgent Care centres open extended hours, seven days per week. We have specialists on-call to provide injury management advice. Our X-rays are reported by Perth Radiological Clinic, and we operate a review clinic to follow up patients with broken bones, wounds and abnormal pathology results until they can be discharged back to their own GP.
The first St John Urgent Care centres opened in July 2016 at Joondalup and Cockburn Central. We currently see 80,000 urgent care patients annually in Perth. St John Urgent Care centres operate efficient systems to keep wait times low. On average, patients are seen by a nurse and doctor within 30 minutes of arriving and finish their visit within 1 hour. St John Urgent Care is supported by a medical policies, procedures and safety systems to provide consistent, high-quality care.
What types of conditions can we treat?
St John Urgent Care is designed to help with urgent but non-life threatening problems. These are the types of problems which might not be severe enough for ED, but often end up in ED anyway because no other service is available when needed. The aim of St John Urgent Care is to relieve pressure on emergency departments, and to help you get the care you need in the right place with the least amount of fuss. We can help with:
- Possible sprains or broken bones (we have x-ray, crutches/moon boots/splints onsite)
- Cuts that need stitches or glue
- Sports injuries
- Work-related injuries
- Minor eye and ear problems
- Minor burns
- Acute symptoms such as fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, kidney infections, tonsillitis
- Minor insect and animal bites
- Children with viral illnesses, temperatures, chest infections etc.
- Any minor but urgent health problem
St John Urgent Care is NOT an Emergency Department
St John WA is very clear about one key fact. We are NOT an emergency department.
If you have a life-threatening health event, you must always call 000 and go directly to ED. St John Urgent Care is not a hospital. Patients cannot be admitted or observed for extended periods. We don’t have an ICU or a surgical ward if things get really bad. If you are concerned about any of the following conditions, always go directly to ED:
- ANY LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCY
- Heart attack/chest pain
- Inability to breathe
- Heavy bleeding
- Serious head or spine injury
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Severe stomach pain
- Severe or extensive burns
- Bleeding in pregnancy
- Serious mental health problems
- Poisoning / Intoxication
- Serious allergic reactions
Why can’t I just go to my GP for ‘urgent care’?
You can. If your GP has x-ray on site, opens long hours on evenings, weekends and public holidays, and can provide urgent care for broken bones, wounds, acute illnesses etc., clearly this is an excellent service. We support the relationship with your existing GP and encourage you to use them first whenever possible.
However, we also know that patients with urgent, non-life threatening problems still make up over half of the total ED visits in WA. When patients can’t access the care they need in the community at the time they need it, ED seems like the only option. To address this, St John Urgent Care centres are specially designed to treat minor injuries and illnesses 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
St John’s Urgent Care model is typically staffed by GPs from practices in the local area. At present, over 150 GPs throughout the Perth area work shifts at St John Urgent Care. Urgent Care centres support skilled GPs to provide the care you need by putting all the necessary tools at their disposal in one location.
A recent WA scientific study found that up to 40% of all ED visits could be managed by GPs out of hospital, if they could practice from a facility with x-ray onsite, rapid x-ray reporting, equipment for casting and splinting broken bones, on-call advice from injury specialists, and extra space and staff to observe patients or provide intra-venous (IV) treatments. This is a perfect description of a St John Urgent Care centre.
What DON’T we do?
Any new service generates interest and questions. St John Urgent Care is designed to solve episodic, urgent but non-life threatening problems which might otherwise cause you to visit ED. St John Urgent care is not a walk-in GP service or a replacement for your usual GP. We will do everything we can to solve your problem when you visit. But here is a list of things St John Urgent Care will don’t do:
- We don’t organise chronic disease management plans, mental health treatment plans, medication reviews, health assessments or other non-urgent care through our Urgent Care service. Your usual GP is better placed to provide these services during a routine medical appointment.
- We don’t provide long-term repeat scripts for medications. Long term prescriptions require careful monitoring by your GP over time and require a GP appointment.
- We don’t provide routine referrals for specialist appointments. Specialists need a single point of contact to communicate with about your ongoing healthcare. This single point of contact is your usual GP.
- We don’t perform screening tests, health checks, skin checks, women’s/men’s health checks etc. in Urgent Care. We recommend you make a GP appointment for these routine but important checks.
- We don’t provide prescriptions for addictive medicines such as strong painkillers, sleeping tablets, or ‘relaxers’. These medicines need careful monitoring by your GP for your safety.
- We don’t sign patients off work for extended periods. We can provide medical certs and Workers Compensation paperwork to cover the first few days if you are injured or unwell. After this it is always recommended that you see your GP for the next steps.
- We don’t ask you to change doctor.
- Urgent Care is designed to manage urgent, but non-life threatening injuries and illnesses.
- Urgent Care is not a replacement for your ‘regular’ GP- we don’t want to get in the way of the excellent care your GP already provides.
- The first question our nurses ask every Urgent Care patient is “Who is your usual GP?”.
- We will encourage you to follow up with your usual GP once we solve your immediate problem.
- We will send a discharge summary to your GP to describe the care we have provided.
Who are St John WA, and why are they operating Urgent Care centres?
St John has been serving and operating as an integral part of the Western Australian community for more than 125 years. While the look of our organisation has changed over that time, the dedication and commitment to our core purpose has remained the same. St John Urgent Care is the newest clinical service through which St John can deliver on its purpose.
We are a non-profit organisation whose purpose in Western Australia is to serve humanity and build resilient communities through the relief of sickness, distress, suffering and danger.
We do this by:
- Making first aid a part of everyone’s life.
- Delivering high quality cost-effective ambulance services to Western Australians.
- Providing appropriate, timely and equitable access into the health system for unscheduled care.
In the context of increased pressures on ambulance and emergency department services, St John Urgent Care is our effort to the provision of unscheduled care for non-life threatening problems.
- St John WA has constantly evolved and innovated to better achieve its purpose since its humble beginnings in the 19th century
- St John began teaching first aid in Perth, Western Australia on March 3rd 1892 and gradually expanded throughout rural WA in the early 1900s.
- The St John Ambulance Brigade was formed in 1904, providing urgent first aid at communal events and sporting occasions.
- As the local population grew and the need for a dedicated ambulance service became apparent, St John assumed responsibility for Perth’s ambulance service in 1922.
- By 1959 there were 72 St John sub-centres throughout WA, providing country ambulance and first aid training services to the local community.
- Due to rapid growth in demand for its services throughout the 1970s, St John undertook structural changes to enable it to reliably cater to the communities’ needs.
- St John WA transitioned from a medical charity with lay management to a non-profit organisation with professional management in 1979, combining features of a public utility, a business corporation and a voluntary association.
- During its 100yr centenary in 1992, St John opened a new branch, Community Care. This service provided by non-uniformed volunteers provided transport, outreach and a social outlet for the increasing population of lonely elderly in the community.
- In the early part of the new millennium, St John Ambulance was officially recognised by the State Government as the principle provider of ambulance transport in Western Australia.
- The Volunteer First Aid Service celebrated 100 years during 2004, acknowledging the important role volunteers play in providing first aid services at community, cultural and sporting events. You can become a volunteer for St John WA by heading to stjohnwa.com.au/changelives
- St John Ambulance Western Australia celebrated 120 years of service to the community in 2012.
- St John opened its first Urgent Care centres in Perth in 2016, reflecting its ongoing humanitarian commitment to providing high-quality first aid services and timely patient access to unscheduled care for minor injuries and illnesses.
Do Urgent Care centres work? Is there any evidence?
In designing its Urgent Care model, St John has analysed international models in the US, the UK, Ireland and New Zealand among others. The most geographically relevant model is that of New Zealand and Auckland in particular. An Urgent Care model similar to that operated by St John is well established in Auckland, having operated there for over 30 years. Auckland has 19 Urgent Care centres distributed throughout the greater metropolitan area.
In WA, patients with minor injuries and acute but non-life-threatening illnesses present in high volumes to emergency departments. By contrast, Auckland patients typically present to Urgent Care centres rather than Emergency Departments for this category of medical care. As a consequence, Auckland has the lowest ED attendance rate in the developed world at 179 attendances per 1000 of population per year. For comparison, the WA ED attendance rate is almost double this, at 322 per 1000.
St John believes that patients and frontline emergency services in WA can derive similar benefits by replicating the Auckland model, albeit in a format customised for the particular needs of WA patients- namely St John Urgent Care.
St John Urgent Care federal government pilot programme
- St John partnered with the federal government in 2019 to undertake a 4 year pilot programme to formally evaluate the St John Urgent Care model throughout the Perth metro area. This ongoing project involves a $28m commitment towards the construction of four new Urgent Care centres, and formal evaluation of their impact on the emergency healthcare system, patients, and other key stakeholders.
- The designated locations for the four Urgent Care sites are Cannington, Midland, Osborne Park and Mandurah.
- Construction of the Cannington and Midland sites is ongoing and these centres will be operational in early 2021. The Cannington site will be located at 1472 Albany Highway, while the Midland site will be located at the corner of Clayton Road and Lloyd Street.
- Locations and tenancies for Osborne Park and Mandurah sites are in the process of being finalised, with these latter facilities due to come online in early 2022.
- The programme to evaluate the effect of St John Urgent Care sites will include a stakeholder engagement process conducted by the WA Health Translation Network.
- A formal evaluation of the impact of St John Urgent Care will be carried out by the Prehospital, Resuscitation and Emergency Care Research Unit of Curtin University.
Is this the same as the State GP Urgent Care Network?
St John Urgent Care and the WA GP Urgent Care network are separate but complementary services, which came about at different times. St John is very supportive of the state initiative as one of a number of possible measures to help prevent avoidable ED visits. In cases where local GPs have the time, physical resources and appetite to manage urgent care-type presentations in their own practice, this is clearly a good outcome for patients.
The WA GP Urgent Care Network is a recent initiative announced by the state government in partnership with WAPHA/RACGP/AMA, aimed at directing suitable patients to un-filled GP appointments.
By contrast, St John Urgent Care has been operating large purpose-built urgent care centres in WA since 2016. The St John model of service delivery is tailored specifically toward managing high-volume urgent care presentations throughout extended opening hours.
Education, Awareness and Community Conversations
St John WA will be launching an Urgent Care education and awareness campaign for the Perth region later in 2020. This multi-platform media campaign will aim to raise awareness of the role of Urgent Care for urgent but non-life threatening injuries and illnesses. The campaign will also help to highlight the important role of your GP and your local ED in managing different types of health complaints, and illustrated where Urgent Care fits between these two services.
In addition, the Consumer and Community Health Research Network, a division of the WA Health Translation Network, will be conducting community conversations for interested stakeholders in March 2020. If you are interested in participating in these community conversation workshops please read below.
A message from the Consumer and Community Health Research Network
We are holding a Community Conversation on Tuesday 10 March for people in the Cockburn area to allow community members who have used the St John Urgent Care Cockburn Central to offer feedback and guidance for future Urgent Care centres.
A Community Conversation is an event using an abridged version of the World Café method, and is a friendly and constructive way to have open conversations around questions of importance to a specific topic. We are inviting people who have used the St John Urgent Care Centre at Cockburn Central to be involved in a conversation about their experiences and their future expectations about Urgent Care at Cockburn Central and surrounding suburbs.
The Community Conversation format will be facilitated by the WA Health Translation Network’s Consumer and Community Health Research Network (CCHRN) who will provide an independent, open and friendly environment to effectively capture discussion points and thoughts. All comments are captured by a scribe and used to develop a report about the St John Urgent Care service at Cockburn Central. This will inform St John’s provision of care relevant to the needs of the local community and the development of future urgent care sites.
For more information and registration for Tuesday 10 March event please follow the link to the CCHRN website. A small payment will be provided and refreshments will be available.
A further community conversation will be held in Midland on Wednesday 18 March. Please click here for registration details. A small payment will be provided and refreshments will be available.