The Queensland Government has announced plans to make an investment of A$27m ($18.1m) to expand access to virtual emergency care services.

This new service will be launched via Queensland Virtual Hospital and will offer an alternative to visiting emergency departments for non-life-threatening conditions.

The Virtual Emergency Care service is staffed by qualified doctors and nurses, providing Queensland residents with virtual access to unplanned and emergency care.

The service is available through various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, or via telephone by calling 13 HEALTH.

It is designed to address immediate but not critical medical issues, such as respiratory illnesses, allergic reactions, and other non-critical conditions.

Patients can describe their symptoms online to receive guidance on the most suitable care options, which may include visiting a local GP, an urgent care clinic, or connecting to the Virtual Emergency Care Service.

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The Queensland Virtual Hospital’s offerings will be further enhanced with the integration of the Queensland Telestroke Service by the end of the year.

This offering will provide a networked approach to virtually-enabled, round-the-clock stroke care, enabling access to specialist assessments and treatment advice for clinicians in remote areas

Metro North Hospital and Health Service delivered the Virtual Emergency Care service, which will operate from 8am to 10pm, on behalf of the Queensland Virtual Hospital.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said: “Quality healthcare wherever you live matters to Queenslanders, which is why I am so proud to announce this virtual care model.

“We know our hospitals are under pressure and that it’s harder than ever to secure a GP appointment, so bringing virtual care into Queenslanders’ homes is going to change lives.

“Whether you’ve woken up on the Gold Coast with a kid who has a fever, or you’re on a remote station with a rash or bite in the north west, I want every Queenslander to know we have your back.”

The latest development comes after the Queensland Government allocated up to A$1.46bn ($971m) for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (HHS) under the 2024-25 State Health Budget.