Outpatient Redesign Project

SA Health is investing $1.5 million to support a statewide redesign of our outpatient system to ensure South Australia has a modern, standardised and transparent outpatient system that better meets the needs of the South Australian community.

The immediate priority is to clear the backlog of people waiting for an appointment and reset the system. The first step is a state-wide review to ensure all patients waiting over three years for a specialist outpatient appointment have a clinical review by a GP. GPs are integral to our health system and GPs will be fully involved and play a strategic role in this process.

We have already seen fantastic innovations across the Local Health Networks (LHNs) who have been working hard to improve outpatient services, including the reduction of waiting times. Since 2018, the maximum waiting time for outpatient services has reduced by over a third. SA Health is aware that further improvements are required for South Australians to have faster access to best-practice healthcare.

Information for consumers

If you have been waiting for longer than three years for a specialist outpatient appointment, you will receive a letter from your LHN.

The letter will ask you to visit your GP for a review if you have not yet received the care for which you were referred and if you still require an appointment with the service.

Your nominated GP will also receive a letter to let them know you have been contacted.

Information for GPs

The major projects currently underway as part of the Outpatient Redesign project include the establishment of standardised Clinical Prioritisation Criteria (CPC), electronic referrals (E-referrals), and a state-wide clinical review:

  • Clinical Prioritisation Criteria (CPC) will assist GPs in accessing information related to the minimum required referral information for a range of clinical conditions. Clinical Prioritisation Criteria have been implemented with great success in many states across Australia, in particular Queensland. GP engagement is vital for the successful development and implementation of the CPC.
  • Electronic referrals (E-referrals) will assist in streamlining the exchange of information between GPs and hospital clinicians. This will enable secure communication using available modern technology.
  • The State-wide Clinical Review will ensure that SA Health Specialist Outpatient waiting lists are up to date and accurate in order to facilitate access to OP services. This clinical review aims to determine if patients waiting over 3 years still require a Specialist Outpatient appointment, and if the original referral information is still clinically relevant.

LHNs are in the process of writing to patients who have been waiting for greater than three years. Patients are being asked to visit their GP for a review within 30 days. The patient’s nominated GP will also receive a letter to inform them the patient has been contacted.

GPs are asked to re-assess the patient’s condition and consider the most appropriate care options available. Refer to LHN Outpatients pages below for further information regarding Specialist Outpatients Departments clinical acceptance criteria.

HealthPathways SA provides additional clinical support and guidance on appropriate care options. If you require advice on Specialist Outpatient Department Services, please contact the LHN GP Liaison.

If you determine that a Specialist Outpatient appointment is still required, please send an updated referral with current clinical information (including any prerequisite diagnostics tests). All referrals undergo rigorous triage by a senior clinician. Referrals should include as much relevant clinical information as possible to help determine whether your patient fits the current acceptance criteria.

Specialist Outpatients Departments receive a greater number of referrals than can be appointed. In some cases, the clinic may advise that a referral is not accepted and that your patient has not been offered an appointment.

Governance

This outpatient redesign project is being led by the Outpatient Redesign Steering Committee which includes representation from SA Health clinicians, consumers, GPs and all metropolitan and regional Local Health Networks (LHNs).

LHN Outpatient Services