Covid-19 response needs primary care funding
DOCTORS REFORM SOCIETY
General Practices (GPs) Need Much More Support For Covid-19 Outbreak
“Suggestions that video consultations with GPs may soon be funded is just a start to what is needed to address the Covid-19 outbreak” said Dr Tim Woodruff, President, Doctors Reform Society.
“GPs and their staff will be the mainstay of limiting the spread and sorting out the huge flood of patients seeking advice and medical help as the crisis evolves”, said Dr Woodruff. “Hospitals will indeed be central for those who are sick, but to prevent hospitals being completely overwhelmed we need general practices to be funded and resourced to cope.”
“Much of the sorting out of patients could be done by telephone but GPs can’t be expected to spend an hour or more a day on the phone without Government support. Currently doctors do a little bit of phone consulting without any payment. That model is unsustainable in this situation. Video consultations are fine for those patients who can do it, but many of the elderly and poor cannot, so we need funding for telephone consultations.”
“It’s not just GP phone time which the Federal Government needs to fund, it’s all the equipment, the use of a dedicated isolation room, and the staff time which will add massively to the burden on general practices.”
“State Health Ministers need to talk with the Federal Government about this so that the public hospitals and Emergency Departments have some hope of coping with the huge burden they will need to deal with”, said Dr Woodruff. “If this isn’t addressed, many patients who don’t need to be seen in ED will clog the system, leading to worsening of the outbreak.”
“How we deal with this evolving crisis will demonstrate just how crucial primary health care is and how its chronic underfunding needs to be corrected”.
Dr Tim Woodruff, President, Ph 0401042619
Dr Con Costa, Vice President Ph 0418400309