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This was an innovation project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisation

The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH)


  • North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network
  • Werribee Mercy Hospital
  • Sunshine Hospital


Many caregivers seek paediatric care for their child from overcrowded emergency departments (EDs) or hospital outpatient (OP) clinics with wait times that are continually increasing. In 2017, RCH’s paediatric outpatient clinic wait times ranged from three to 18 months. 

These children often present with relatively simple conditions that could be managed by their general practitioner (GP) in a primary care setting. Unnecessary referrals create a burden on the public healthcare system, with wide-ranging impacts on the delivery of timely, accessible and quality care.

In an Australian first, RCH piloted an integrated model of care where paediatricians partnered with GPs to provide specialist care for children, upskilling primary healthcare providers and enhancing the quality of care delivered in the community to Victoria’s youngest patients.


  • Test the feasibility and acceptability of a GP-paediatrician integrated model of care designed to support GPs to deliver appropriate care for children
  • Reduce the number of children being referred to hospital OP clinics and EDs
  • Improve the patient experience and their preference for GP care
  • Enhance GPs’ experience and increase their confidence and competence in paediatric care


  • Reduced referrals to hospital EDs from 19 per cent to 12 per cent
  • Increased GPs’ confidence in managing child health issues
  • Increased families’ confidence in their GP to provide general care for their child 
  • Achieved a variety of qualitative benefits for families (e.g. providing specialist care closer to home), improved the management of child health, and enhanced child health outcomes
  • Demonstrated that at scale, the new model of care has the potential save families, hospitals and government more than $9,000 per year for every GP clinic running the model of care


November 2020 – The project team received a National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership grant to trial an expanded program across 22 general practice clinics in Victoria and New South Wales to test the model’s sustainability as well as its clinical and cost-effectiveness. The project team has also submitted a Medical Research Future Fund grant application to trial a rural version of the model of care. 

Project summary

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