01 March 2019

Flood-affected communities to receive telehealth care with their GP

  • Australians affected by recent flooding events in Queensland will be able to email, phone or video call their GP thanks to a Medicare boost announced today by the Federal Minister for Health.
  • Many flood-affected Australians live significant distances away from the next town making access to a GP difficult and expensive.

Regional Queenslanders affected by the devastating floods last month, will be able to pick up the phone and talk to their GP about their health from Saturday 2 March 2019 under a new arrangement announced by the Australian Government.
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Dr Harry Nespolon has welcomed today’s announcement by the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, which will increase the availability of telehealth services to communities in regional Queensland.
“This is an incredibly hard time for those affected by the floods, and the health, particularly the mental health, of people in these communities is an area of key concern at this time,” Dr Nespolon said.
“The Federal Government’s funding for telehealth services in flood-affected areas will mean those people living significant distances away from the next town, or whose route to their GP has been impacted by the floods, can email, phone or video call their GP instead.
“Allowing a patient to claim a Medicare rebate for a phone or video call with their GP is an excellent way of making sure that high level healthcare is affordable and accessible to our regional Australians.
“In the bush it can be very hard to get our patients in the door to talk about their mental health, which we know is vital for their overall health.
RACGP Rural Chair, Dr Ayman Shenouda also congratulated the government, noting that the support of telehealth GP services would also support continuity of care.
“Access to GP telehealth will mean more patients living in these communities that have been devastated by flooding will be able to seek the advice of their regular GP. The GP who understands their family history and their individual needs and circumstances.
“If you are in need of support but are unable to make it to a general practice, please make sure to reach out to your GP via email, phone or video call. Your GP will take the steps needed to support you and your wellbeing.”

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