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A trial program to help people who attend urgent care centres in the region see a doctor without travelling beyond their local health service has saved patients travel and wait time.

The trial is a partnership with West Wimmera Health Service utilising telehealth video-conferencing with doctors in the Horsham Emergency Department after hours and Nhill local Trevor Willersdorf said the program saved him a late night trip to Horsham.

“I went up to the Nhill hospital at night because I had some painful swelling come up pretty quickly at the site of a recent surgical procedure,” Mr Willersdorf said.

“They asked me if I wanted to be part of this telehealth trial where they call the doctor in Horsham via a video. I was happy to do it.

“After the consultation it was decided I didn’t need to go to Horsham right then, some tests could be done and then a follow up in Horsham when the tests were back. It ended up being an infected undissolved stitch.

“Without the video consult with Horsham, I was told I would have most likely had to come to Horsham that night to have it checked. So it saved a lot of travelling time and waiting time- it was terrific.”

Wimmera Health Care Group director of patient services Don McRae said the trial started in February and occurs between the hours of 5-10pm, seven days a week.

“We think this program benefits patients, doctors, nurses and also reduces the burden on Ambulance Victoria who occasionally had to transfer patients to Horsham, when they could have been assessed via telehealth,” Mr McRae said.

If the program assessment is successful, the plan is to expand to other urgent care centres across the Wimmera.           

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