If you live in, or travel in, rural Australia, you might find yourself a long way from a hospital or a doctor. In such situations, it's good to know that nursing posts can provide many medical services. This page contains information about nursing posts and where to find them.
What is a nursing post?
A nursing post is a health centre staffed by highly-skilled registered nurses or nurse practitioners who have the training necessary to provide certain medical services, including emergency care.
Nursing posts are found in remote areas of Australia, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland.
While 'nursing post' is the term most commonly used in Western Australia, the same type of nurse-led facility may be called a 'nurse-led primary healthcare centre' (or 'health centre' or 'health service') in Queensland.
A nursing post might be the closest and best option if you need medical help or emergency care.
What do nursing posts offer?
Depending on your needs, the nurses at a nursing post can assess your medical problem, provide treatments, monitor your condition and manage your medicines. The services are free.
You can attend a nursing post for treatment of an injury or illness, or in an emergency. The services also cover the management of chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Some nursing posts also offer pathology testing and have the equipment needed to take x-rays.
Members of the nursing staff are authorised to prescribe specified medicines within the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
In particular, in an emergency, the nursing staff will often communicate with medical experts elsewhere and provide the emergency care needed until the patient can be transported to hospital by ambulance or plane.
At some nursing posts, doctors from cities or the Royal Flying Doctor Service regularly attend special clinics.
There are more than 35 nursing posts in Western Australia, with locations ranging from tiny rural communities, such as Marble Bar in the Pilbara, to areas popular with tourists.
One example is the Rottnest Island Nursing Post, which offers free healthcare services to residents and visitors. The Rottnest nurses are all trained in advanced life support so in emergencies they can care for patients until they are transferred to a mainland hospital.
At Queensland's nurse-led clinics or primary healthcare centres, the nurses can assess and monitor a patient's condition, deliver treatment, develop a care plan and prescribe some medication. They will also call emergency services or refer a patient to a doctor if required.
Nurses provide healthcare to some remote or rural Victorian communities, such as Swifts Creek in Eastern Gippsland.
Australian Capital Territory
In the ACT, there are Walk-In Centres run by nurses who provide free treatment for minor illnesses and injuries.
When should I go to a nursing post?
As a first step, you should attend a nursing post if you need treatment for an injury or illness when you are very far from doctors or hospitals.
While most clinics' opening hours are limited to week days, some have staff on call for emergencies 24 hours a day.
If you are in a remote area and uncertain where to get help, call Triple zero (000) in an emergency or healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for advice about where to go.
Last reviewed: January 2017