People with medical conditions or due for routine screening should not let their regular doctor appointments slip due to COVID-19 fears.
North Coast Primary Health Network’s lead clinical adviser Dr Dan Ewald is concerned some people may be risking their health by cancelling appointments.
“General practices generally now have plenty of capacity for consultations,” Dr Ewald said.
“Almost all are comfortable with doing consultations by phone or video. And nearly all can arrange face-to-face visits if need be – just phone first so they can check there is no respiratory infection risk.”
Dr Ewald said GPs are embracing the move to telehealth, with more than 50 per cent of consultations now using audio or video technology. The number of face-to-face visits has fallen, but these appointments are still available if needed.
“Prescriptions, referrals and pathology can usually be organised very simply using telephone consultations, particularly where the doctor already knows the patient,” Dr Ewald said.
“Anyone with long term health conditions should continue their regular review visits and plan with their GP when this needs to be face to face. Most telehealth consultations will be bulk- billed.”
He said there is still a wait for flu vaccinations in some areas, but there will be plenty available in good time.
“We’re hearing some people can’t get through to their GP to make an appointment,” Dr Ewald said. “Don’t keep calling if your GP has said they will call you when the influenza vaccine is available.”