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New referral guidelines to help fast track specialist care

18 September, 2007

New referral guidelines for General Practitioners will help thousands of Western Australians receive better access to specialist care.

The Clinical Priority Access Criteria (CPAC), which are available online, have been developed by specialists to help GPs categorise outpatients based on clinical need so that the most urgent cases are seen first.

The guidelines cover 26 specialities, including oncology, cardiology, urology and paediatric care, and more than 200 commonly referred conditions.

Director General of Health, Dr Neale Fong, said CPAC was designed to improve access to outpatient services and reduce waiting times.

"To ensure patients are receiving the most appropriate care within the desired timeframe, all referring practitioners are being asked to allocate a priority for care based on the guidelines,” he said.

“This will assist the thousands of patients who are referred for specialist treatment by their GPs every year.

“The guidelines will make it easier for GPs to identify patients who need to be fast-tracked for urgent appointments and will mean patients get their treatment quicker and have fewer hospital visits throughout their care.”

Dr Fong said more than 600,000 outpatient appointments were made in WA public hospitals every year and the initiative would streamline the referral process.

"These guidelines will mean that consistent, comprehensive information is provided with each new GP referral, thereby reducing duplication across the system,” he said.

Dr Fong said information packs about the online system had been sent to GPs and outpatient clinics this week.

A dedicated website has been established at www.gp.health.wa.gov.au and local health services will now work with GPs and the WA Divisions of General Practice to implement the guidelines system-wide.

Dr Fong said the initiative had been successfully trialled at Fremantle Hospital and had been well received by local GPs and hospital staff.

“This initiative demonstrates WA Health’s commitment to work together to provide more responsive and patient-focused care for all Western Australians,” he said.

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