Outpatient services are generally provided in a clinic setting, where patients are not formally admitted to hospital and do not stay overnight. Patients can consult specialist medical practitioners, have tests or other procedures, or be provided with allied health, such as physiotherapy, psychology or podiatry, or specialist nursing care.
Outpatient care enables people to receive a diagnosis, procedure, assessment, treatment or education without admission to hospital. Outpatient care also reduces demand on other parts of the health system and is a critical link between primary and tertiary health care.
Outpatient services often play an important role in a patient’s care journey because of the wide range of care they provide.
NSW Health is the largest provider of outpatient services in Australia, with 12,000 outpatient service units providing 24 million clinical occasions of service in 2019/20 .
NSW Health Outpatient Services Framework (the Framework) outlines the principles to be adopted, and procedures and processes to be applied for the effective management of NSW Health outpatient services. The Framework is intended to support system leadership and provide a direction to achieve the following outcomes:
NSW Health is developing State-wide Referral Criteria (SRC) for public specialist outpatient services.
SRC are clinical decision support tools that give health professionals the clinical referral criteria they need to refer their patients to specialist outpatient services in public hospitals in NSW.
SRC will help people who need to see a specialist in a public outpatient clinic to be referred and prioritised in a safe and timely way. They will support patients and the health professionals looking after them to make a referral, and will improve how public specialist outpatient services screen and triage these referrals.
Phase 1 of the SRC program is focussing on the development of SRC for selected Ophthalmology, Gastroenterology, Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) and Orthopaedic conditions.
For more information, contact the Outpatient team at the NSW Ministry of Health.