Opening Melbourne’s new Medicare Urgent Care Clinic

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Opening Melbourne’s new Medicare Urgent Care Clinic Hero

Good morning, everyone.

My name is Andrew Cohen. I’m the CEO of For Health and we’re lucky to be joined by a cast of many.

Firstly, we have Dr. Suma Shiveraj. We have Senator Jess Walsh. We have Chris Carter, the CEO of the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network. We have the Hon. Ged Kearney, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care. We have a patient, Hannah and Michelle, our nurse.

I want to firstly acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Wurundjeri people and pay my respects to Elders past, present, and emerging.

For Health is the second largest general provider in the country. We serve more than 7 million patients visits every year throughout Australia. Our mission is really about accessible and universal healthcare.

We focus largely on low socioeconomic and regional areas. Areas where the basic right to accessible health has been increasingly difficult over the last decade.

Before I begin, I just want to acknowledge the Albanese Government’s cutting through the politics of healthcare and really refocusing on patient access. The tripling of the bulk-billing incentive, in November is a major breakthrough for our communities and for the sector. We are seeing a real change in bulk-billing rates. In our mixed-billing clinics, we’re already seeing five percentage point swing in bulk-billing rates. In some clinics in outer metropolitan New South Wales, it’s as high as 15 percentage points. We are seeing that difference, it’s really come through.

Urgent care centres are another really, really important change to the system. Another door of access to the community and an important support to a secondary system that is increasingly under pressure.

To give you a sense for kind of the effectiveness of that, the Victorian sites that have been set up and commissioned with the PHN, are often seeing 30 and sometimes 50 patients a day. About 60% of those patients say that they would have otherwise gone to an ED, and 9 out of 10 would highly recommend the service. So, we are seeing a real difference.

Prime Minister Albanese said a couple of weeks ago that the impact and the community response has actually been even better than they first envisaged. We think that this centre here in Drummond Street will be a really important, part of that state and federal network.
We thank them very much on behalf of the community.

I want to finish by really thanking the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network for trusting us and for their support in commissioning this site in what was a record speed. Thank you to our team for the hard work in creating and commissioning this site as well. I think it’s going to make a really, really big difference to the community.


Thank you so much everybody for being here today.

Urgent Care Clinics are a fantastic innovation that Australians have absolutely embraced. They have really gone beyond our expectations as far as delivering excellent care to Australians.

This is the 10th clinic in Victoria, located here at the Carlton Medical and Urgent Care Clinic. It is 56th one around the country. We plan to open 58 before the end of the year.

They are an amazing innovation for Australians who have non urgent or semi urgent needs from a medical centre. Things like if you come off your skateboard, if you do an ACL playing sport, if you get burned while you’re cooking, if your kid has a fever, or you yourself have some sort of gastric upset, for example. They’re just some of the things that you would come to the Urgent Care Clinics for.

Urgent Care Clinics are not to replace your general practitioner. You still would go to your GP for your everyday healthcare needs and your long term healthcare needs.

These clinics are to take some pressure off our EDs. Our EDs, as you know, where you can sit for hours and hours waiting to be seen. So these clinics are playing such an important role in primary healthcare, but also taking the pressure off their hospitals and that’s incredibly important.

The Albanese Labor Government is 100% committed to providing the best healthcare we can for all Australians. And if that means redesigning the health system, then we’re up for it.

I really want to thank, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network. I want to thank For Health – they have been absolutely amazing working with the Government. I want to thank the Victorian Government, because we’ve been working very closely with the state and territory governments in making sure that all of these Urgent Care Clinics are stood up as quickly as possible and fit as seamlessly as possible into the state health system.

Most of all, I want to thank all the wonderful clinicians who are here, who have absolutely leaped to the fore and made sure that these places are stood up quickly and that they’re operating safely giving the best possible care to all Australians.

It’s been a great innovation. I’m incredibly proud to be part of the Albanese Labor Government that has instigated this, but incredibly proud of all of you who are here today for making this happen.

I’m also very pleased to be joined by my wonderful colleague, Senator Jess Walsh, who is a great, advocate for her electorate, a great advocate for the state of Victoria, and who I think would be very pleased that we have our 10th Urgent Care Clinics up and running in Victoria.

Would you like to say a few words, Jess.

Thank you very much, Assistant Minister and thank you, Andrew and For Health for having us here today. It’s fantastic to see everyone here getting this up and running.

This is the 10th Medicare Urgent Care Clinic opening in Victoria. It’s great for our state to see these clinics getting up and running here in inner Melbourne and in the suburbs and the regions as well.

This clinic is going to be so important for residents and workers and families in this area to have a place that they can come to instead of the emergency department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital down the road. This will be great for if they’ve cut their finger cooking or sprained an ankle playing sport to be able to come here and get support.

As the Assistant Minister said, critically, this will take pressure off our hospital system. It will take pressure off the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s emergency department. A lot of people who end up going there perhaps don’t need to be there and now can come here instead. This is great for inner Melbourne.

Thank you all for everything that you’re doing. Thank you.

I’ve been working for 10 months now at an Urgent Care Clinic but I’ve been a GP for 20 years. I love this model and making a difference for the emergency department and for the public has been really good. Thank you.

I had an incident at school and I required stitches in my hand. I went to an Urgent Care Clinic instead of the emergency department.

The team was amazing. They treated me really fast, they were super caring, and I was in and out within about an hour compared to an emergency department where I would’ve been there for multiple hours. It was a really good experience.

Unfortunately, later that night, I also then injured my leg, so I came back the next day. I had an X-ray on my leg and they treated me and they suspected an ACL. They gave me a referral to get an MRI, and I found out that I did my ACL two days later. It was a really quick process, and it helped me with my recovery a lot faster.