If you feel unwell, your first thought may be to attend your local hospital. However, the emergency departments of hospitals can be very busy places. In an attempt to relieve pressure on emergency care centres, the Australian health service runs a number of walk-in clinics. Walk-in medical clinics are usually based in community health centres, and as the name suggests, you do not require an appointment in order to be seen by a doctor or nurse. Below is a guide to some of the medical problems which can be treated at a walk-in clinic.
Minor injuries clinic
Most walk-in medical clinics are able to treat minor injuries such as small cuts and bruises as well as superficial burns. A nurse will assess the damage and then apply bandages, sutures or other treatments in order to address the problem. If the injury is deemed to need further treatment, you will be referred to your local hospital.
Insect bite treatments
Australia has a large insect population and unfortunately, a lot of these insects like to bite. Thankfully, the majority of insect bites result in nothing more severe than localised pain and swelling. However, if the pain persists or the swelling does not go down after a short while, you should seek treatment at your local walk-in centre. The nurse will be able to administer anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers. If you're bitten by a spider and begin to feel suddenly unwell, you should always seek emergency care at your local hospital rather than a walk-in centre.
Emergency contraception and sexual health assessments
If you have had unprotected sex, and you are concerned about the possibility of pregnancy, your local walk-in centre should be able to provide you with emergency contraception such as the morning after pill. You will also be able to access sexual health testing and treatments.
If you have recently been discharged from hospital after an operation, you may need ongoing care while the wound heals. Your local walk-in centre will often provide this rather than at the hospital where the procedure was carried out. The nurse will be able to change your dressings and assess how well the wound is healing. If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery, the nurse will be happy to answer them or to refer you to a doctor.
If you would like to find out more, you should contact a local walk-in centre for further help and advice.