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GPs praised for COVID-19 response

Published 23 August 2022

Report says doctors underpinned COVID-19 response


General practitioners (GPs), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), and General Practice-led Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) were at the forefront of the region’s COVID-19 response over the past 28 months, according to a new report by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).

The COVID-19 General Practice, ACCHO, and GPRC Response Review February 2020-June 2022 showed that 136 general practices, 11 ACCHOS, three GPRCs and 112 pharmacies delivered more than 777,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines between February 2021 and June 2022.

NQPHN Co-Chair Tara Diversi said since February 2020 “general practice has underpinned Australia’s response to COVID-19”.

“At NQPHN, we have been privileged to collaborate with the primary care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic response,” she said.

Ms Diversi said the review was “an opportunity for NQPHN to say thank you to the general practices, ACCHOs, and other primary care providers for the dedication and hard work they have provided to help northern Queenslanders stay safe and live happier, healthier, longer lives during the pandemic”.

She said the 777,492 doses administered was “an incredible achievement to protect the health and wellbeing of all North Queenslanders”.

NQPHN Chief Executive Officer Robin Whyte said general practices continued to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses every day as well as influenza vaccinations this winter.

“General practices are the core of our health system, and during the COVID-19 response, they have had to adapt to new ways of caring for patients, such as the introduction of telehealth services and the expanded use of PPE, while still responding to an increase in business-as-usual services,” Ms Whyte said.

“The way that general practice has stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates just how important their role is in protecting the health of our communities.

“The vaccination rollout is an example of this, which has been a massive undertaking where GPs have been essential to its success.

“GPs and practice staff, pharmacists and pharmacy staff, along with Indigenous health workers, have all played a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic response.” 

The latest state-wide figures, comparing data in March 2019 and in March 2022, show there had been an 11.5 per cent increase in chronic disease management, a 10.6 per cent increase in mental health care, and a 4.8 per cent increase in health assessment.

“These latest figures acknowledge the leadership role taken, and volume of activity delivered, by general practices and ACCHOs during the pandemic,” Ms Whyte said.

“GPs and practice staff such as managers, nurses, and receptionists, as well as Indigenous health workers, have been nothing short of inspirational.

“The way they have responded to the demands of the pandemic, doing their job in a really professional way, while also managing an increase in ‘business as usual’ services, has provided a pillar of strength for our communities.”

The report also found that general practice quickly adopted new models of service delivery to ensure continuity of care during the COVID-19 response, including screening of patients at the booking stage, triaging of patients with telehealth appointments, reconfiguring clinics and clinic schedules, installation of personal screens, and routine use of personal protective equipment.

The report showed that GPs extended their practice to include the homeless, frail or disabled people unable to leave home, culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse people, and aged care and disability workers.

GPs took part in additional education and training activities, in many meetings, consultations, and collaborative projects. 

Last updated: 31 August 2022