Respiratory clinics set to close

The last remaining general practice respiratory clinics in Melbourne’s west and north will close at the end of the month.

The last remaining general practice respiratory clinics in Melbourne’s west and north are due to close at the end of October, meaning locals will no longer be able to use them to get treatment for COVID-19, flu or other respiratory conditions.

The decision from the state government comes as other new medical services, such as Priority Primary Care Centres (PPCCs) and the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department – now offer almost identical treatments.

While many general practices continued seeing respiratory patients throughout the pandemic, some protected other patients and staff by referring them to the general practice respiratory clinics. Most are now back to offering service to everyone.

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) said the closure doesn’t mean residents in the west and north will find it harder to receive treatment for urgent respiratory conditions, adding that local doctors, PPCCs, the virtual emergency department, and NURSE-ON-CALL can cope with demand.

NWMPHN chief executive Christopher Carter said for most matters the first port of call remains your local doctor or general practice.

“But if you can’t get a timely appointment, or you feel ill after-hours or on the weekend, these other services can easily get you the treatment and support you need without you having to wait for hours in a hospital emergency department,” he said.

“As a patient you will get seen by a doctor or nurse quite quickly, and you’ll be helping hospital emergency departments to focus on truly life-threatening illnesses and injuries.”

General practice respiratory clinics (GPRCs) were set up from 2020 as a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At their peak, there were 50 operating in Victoria.

In recent months that number has decreased as COVID-19 cases dwindled and other services took over.

NWMPHN said the closure of the last few GPRCs marks an important moment in the history of the pandemic.

In Melbourne’s north and west there are seven PPCCs, located in Moonee Ponds, Maribyrnong, Sunshine, Werribee, Sunbury, Craigieburn and Epping.

PPCCs operate halfway between regular general practices and the hospital emergency department.

They are set up to treat urgent but not life-threatening conditions, such as fractures, sprains, burns, respiratory conditions (including COVID-19), fainting, food poisoning, other gut issues, and urinary tract infections.

They are open extended hours, accept walk-ins, have other services nearby and do not charge for their services. A Medicare card is not essential.

The VVED can also be used to link patients to an emergency doctor or nurse through a smart device or computer – and can be found at,

NURSE-ON-CALL is available 24 hours a day and can be reached on 1300 60 60 24.

In the case of an emergency call Ambulance Victoria on 000.