The Royal Hobart Hospital and Launceston General Hospital in Tasmania, Australia, have asked patients not to make emergency department visits unless necessary.

The request comes in response to an increase in demand for health services and staff constraints over high unplanned absences at the two hospitals.

This has been triggered by the prevalence of Covid-19, influenza and seasonal illnesses in the community.

According to a press statement, a significant number of patients with complex needs are waiting for discharge.

This includes those waiting for aged care facility placements and National Disability Insurance Scheme assessments and support.

To manage the situation, the hospitals are closely monitoring elective surgery activity while collaborating with private hospitals to access additional bed capacity and elective surgery support.

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They are also encouraging the community to consider alternative healthcare options for non-emergency situations such as the Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) in Hobart and Launceston, after-hours GP services, local pharmacies or the Health Direct service.

Tasmanian health secretary Kathrine Morgan-Wicks said: “We would like to thank our hard-working and dedicated staff for their commitment to providing high-quality healthcare services to Tasmanians.

“The community can have confidence that the needs of emergency presentations will be met.”

While the hospitals will continue to prioritise emergency presentations, they acknowledge that non-urgent cases may experience longer waiting times in the emergency department.

In emergencies, individuals are requested to call triple zero or go to the nearest emergency department (ED).

The Australian Government had previously allocated funding for the establishment of 58 Medicare UCCs across Australia.

These aim to serve Tasmanian residents who require prompt attention but do not have to visit the ED.

Tasmania will host four Medicare UCCs across the state’s south, north and north-west regions.