COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Health services that are provided in a clinic setting (such as hospital outpatients or community health centres) should follow COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - Guidance for outpatient clinics.

Given the evolving situation, services should regularly monitor NSW Health - COVID-19 for updates.

allied health staffOutpatient 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, psychologyor podiatry, or specialist nursing care.

NSW Health is the largest provider of outpatient services in Australia, with 11,000 outpatient service units providing 24 million clinical occasions of service in 2017/18 .

Outpatient care has a focus on prevention, and the adoption of clinical and technological advances reduce complications and allow patients to return home from hospital sooner. Outpatient care also reduces demand on other parts of the health system and is a critical link between hospital and primary health care systems.

Outpatient services often play an important ongoing role in a patient’s care journey because of the wide range of care they provide.

Outpatient Services Framework

The NSW Health Outpatient Services Framework outlines the principles, procedures and processes required for the effective management of NSW Health outpatient services. It will support health leaders to deliver:

  • equitable, effective and sustainable services that are responsive to community need
  • timely access to health services
  • better integration of services across the system
  • patient-centred care
  • transparent and appropriate performance targets, informed by timely and reliable data.

Principles of the framework

The principles underpinning the Outpatient Services Framework are:

  • a patient-centred approach to care is adopted, where each person is respected as an individual and not as a condition to be treated
  • priority of access to outpatient services is based on clinical need
  • the provision of care individual needs and circumstances, including their level of vulnerability and disadvantagehe provision of care individual needs and circumstances, including their level of vulnerability and disadvantage
  • care is integrated across all service settings
  • the outpatient service unit environment optimises the patient's experience
  • timely and effective communication takes place between patients, carers and referrers
  • innovation is encouraged to achieve better patient care outcomes
  • where possible, patients are referred to outpatient service units at a facility near their place of residence, or at another District or Network facility as close as practicable to their place of residence
  • outpatient services are delivered in collaboration with other human services and justice agencies where applicable to promote safety, welfare and wellbeingutpatient services are delivered in collaboration with other human services and justice agencies where applicable to promote safety, welfare and wellbeing

At the core of the Outpatient Services Framework is the principle of patient-centred care. While access to care in the outpatient setting is prioritised based on clinical need, the way in which the care itself is provided once this prioritisation has occurred must be respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of patients.​​​​​

Outpatient Services Framework workshops and information sessions

The System Performance Branch of the Ministry of Health, with the support of key outpatient contacts in each Local Health District and Specialty Health Network, is organising a series of small workshops and information sessions across NSW to unpack the Outpatient Services Framework.
The target audience for the workshops and information sessions is those who manage or have responsibility for outpatient services in their District or Network, but also those who work in or deliver services through outpatient service units, including clinicians.
Commencing around November 2019 and continuing into 2020, the aim of the workshops and information sessions is to assist Districts and Networks to operationalise the Framework by:

  • building awareness of its key components
  • gaining an understanding of what needs to change in outpatient service delivery to meet Framework expectations, and
  • looking at implementation activities that could commence now to start the change process

These sessions will also provide an opportunity for the Ministry of Health to share information regarding statewide work underway to further support implementation of the Framework. 

For further information on these sessions, please contact the Outpatient Services team.

Outpatient Services Network

An Outpatient Services Network is being established for those who manage or have a senior clinical role in an outpatient service unit in NSW. The role of the Outpatient Services Network is to keep outpatient clinics connected, with each other and with the Ministry of Health.

Network members will be able to consult each other on service delivery challenges, share relevant information and research with each other, and know who to contact from neighboring facilities or Districts and Networks for advice.

Members will also be updated by the Ministry on progress with the outpatient reforms underway in NSW, as well as being invited to provide input and feedback on reform issues from time to time.

Current as at: Wednesday 8 July 2020
Contact page owner: System Purchasing