NSW Urgent Care Services

Expressions of interest (EOIs) are now closed and submissions are being reviewed by NSW Health

Healthy North Coast supported NSW Health to conduct an expression of interest in late 2022 with local general practice interested in delivering urgent care services.

An Urgent Care Service (USC) provides community-based and human-centred care to eligible patients with urgent non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries who would have otherwise attended an emergency department for treatment.

NSW UCSs are being established to complement the Australian Government’s Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.


The purpose of this EOI was to seek interest and models from general practices who may have the capacity and capability to provide suitable urgent care services, contributing to the development of an Urgent Care System in NSW. 

These Urgent Care Services will become part of a defined Urgent Care System so that there is clear distinction between the services the community can access across the primary care, hospital and Urgent Care Systems in NSW.

Key areas of Urgent Care Service

Urgent Care Services are different from usual care in general practices, as they provide short-term, episodic care for non-life-threatening urgent conditions requiring same-day assessment or treatment.

Once a patient has been treated by an Urgent Care Service, they will be discharged, and ongoing management and clinical care will be handed over to the patient’s usual GP, even if the patient is referred to another service for higher level clinical care.

Urgent Care Services have extended hours of operation, appropriately trained clinical staff, access to a network of resources and can streamline referrals to other healthcare providers where required.

The NSW Government has identified the following five key areas of an Urgent Care Service:  

Urgent care triage lines can provide an entry point to the urgent care system through assisted healthcare navigation and prevent confusion for patients, carers and families. Walk-in patients who attend clinics outside this process will not be turned away.

Urgent care clinics provide episodic clinical care for patients with urgent but not life threatening conditions that are low acuity/low to moderate complexity.

Rapid response hospital teams providing specialist outreach urgent care from the hospital system to the community, usually at the patient’s location.

Services delivered in a patient’s home or current location may include crisis care such as mental health or drug and alcohol crisis care delivered in the community.

Virtual care safely connecting patients with health professionals to deliver care when and where it is needed via telephone, video conference, remote monitoring or store and forward (storing clinical information and forwarding electronically for assessment and management by someone else).

Guiding principles and objectives

Urgent Care Services in NSW will aim to:

Reduce the volume of low acuity non-admitted presentations to ED that require episodic urgent care and improve timely access to urgent care services for patients, families and carers.

Ensure that services remain episodic by connecting the patient back to their General Practitioner (GP) for their care where appropriate or for follow up once care has been delivered in the Urgent Care Service.

Provide complete care for the episode with little need to refer a patient elsewhere. This will include ensuring on-site access to diagnostics such as radiology and pathology. ‘On-site’ refers to services that do not disadvantage or make it difficult for the patient to access (including proximity and opening hours).

Provide a model of care that is flexible, multidisciplinary and tailored to the local context to allow the right care for the patient, in the right place, at the right time.

Provide services that are co-designed and delivered using a collaborative approach between Local Health Districts/Specialty Health Networks, Primary Health Networks, General Practice, patients, families, carers, the local community and other partners.

Avoid duplication of models of care in hospitals and primary care and where possible leverage existing models of care for a seamless transition between hospital care, urgent care and primary care. Ensure there is a principle of ‘no wrong door’ from the patient, family and carer perspective.

Invest in models that are human-centred and underpinned by kindness, compassion and empathy for staff, patients, families and carers.

Maintain or improve experiences and outcomes for patients e.g. no significant increase in representations (noting some will be expected but rate should not shift), no increase in rate of hospitalisation or mortality rates, increase in overall experience and engagement of staff, patients, families and carers and efficient use of resources.

Provide care at no cost to the patient under models that are sustainable and financially viable for Local Health Districts/Specialty Health Networks, Primary Health Networks and General Practice.

Next steps

NSW Health EOI for general practice provision of Urgent Care Services is now closed and NSW Health is currently reviewing the submissions.