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  • Telehealth will help keep kids out of ED in NSW

    Author: AAP

Families across NSW will be able to access an innovative virtual care program designed to reduce children taking unnecessary trips to hospital.

The virtualKIDS Urgent Care Service will be rolled out statewide by the end of the year, the government said on Sunday.

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The telehealth service connects families with a clinical nurse via video calls to determine the best care pathway and care provider based on each child's needs - be it hospital, a GP or a virtualKIDS expert pediatrician.

It's hoped the rollout will divert low-urgency cases from attending strained emergency departments.

The service initially operated as a virtual COVID clinic for Sydney's two children's hospitals, before expanding to cover respiratory and cardiac conditions. To date, it has cost about $4 million to set up, staff and run.

"The virtualKIDS program has been running as a pilot since August 2021 and works really well," Health Minister Ryan Park said.

"The Urgent Care Service has been part of the program since December 2022, with two out of three kids using the service receiving the care they needed without having to go to an emergency department.

"This has significant benefits not just for families, who have reduced travel, wait times for care and hospital visits, but also for the frontline healthcare workers in our busy emergency departments."

The expanded service will also offer specialist pediatric advice to clinicians in rural and regional hospitals, and to paramedics in non-emergency situations.

The service had allowed children and their families to access trusted support from nurses or pediatricians from the comfort of their own homes, Sydney Children's Hospital Network clinical operations director Joanna Ging said.


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