FLU patients who bypass their general practitioner to go straight to the emergency department are not only putting added pressure on the hospital, but face long waits.
Orange Health Service and Western NSW Medicare Local are urging people with flu symptoms to go to their general practitioner first.
GP Dr Nathan Zhou, of Orange Family Medical Centre, said anyone with urgent concerns or children with breathing difficulties must seek urgent attention, but many people simply needed to pick up the phone and make an appointment with their doctor.
“If people go out to the hospital they could end up waiting for up to five hours,” he said.
In the last financial year more than 17,000 patients arrived at Orange hospital’s emergency department with non-urgent health concerns that could have been treated by a general practitioner.
Western NSW Local Health District chief executive officer Scott McLachlan said people with colds and flu should not go to the emergency department.
“Emergency departments face a seasonally high case load of serious respiratory conditions, including pneumonia and asthma,” he said.
“While our hospitals are equipped and prepared to manage the increased case load, GPs are available to provide medical assessment and treatment for these conditions, with many GP clinics available after hours.”
People with health concerns can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 to talk to a registered nurse.