People should continue to see their doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly if they have chronic health conditions.
The president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Dr Harry Nespolon, said he was concerned that people were neglecting their health.
‘The last thing we want is a tsunami of serious health issues and worsening chronic conditions coming after this virus, simply because people have stopped taking care of themselves or consulting their GP,’ he said.
See your GP remotely with telehealth
The RACGP said that telehealth – healthcare delivered remotely using telecommunications technologies – has been expanded. This means many people can now contact their regular GP over the phone or via secure videoconferencing services such as FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp or Coviu. Telehealth appointments minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Telehealth consultations will be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders and patients more vulnerable to COVID-19, including Indigenous people, people over 70 and those with weakened immune systems or chronic health conditions.
Most doctors will continue to see patients in person where necessary. Talk to your usual practice about the most appropriate type of appointment for your needs.
Get your flu vaccine
Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is urging people to get the flu vaccine, which is available from your pharmacy or doctor and is free for people over 65.
‘April and May is the best time to get a flu vaccine,’ Mr Hunt said.
Keep up regular screenings and treatments
Mr Hunt also said that it was essential that people continue to:
- be screened for conditions such as bowel cancer
- take regular medication
- have any regular blood tests needed to manage a chronic health condition.
Your doctor can mail or email prescriptions to you or your chemist. ‘Your doctor will tell you how to obtain your prescription and whether there are any restrictions for your particular medication,’ the RACGP said.
The RACGP’s new website, Expert Advice Matters, has information and advice about telehealth.