The Australian Medical Association is working to expand access to tele-health consultations to all GPs and other medical specialists by the end of this week.
The push aims to make access easier for patients and help protect doctors on the frontline in a bid to stop the spread of COVID19.
Dunghutti man and CEO of Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), Darryl Wright, said they have already been using tele-health for vulnerable community members including some of the 75 – 100 Elders in lockdown living across the Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee areas.
For those that do not have access to internet, phone consultations have been available as well as walk-in’s for people without a high temperature.
Bundjalung and Kamilaroi woman and Manager of Tharawal AMS, Tallulah Lett, said that the tele-health option has been helpful way before the added pressure of the COVID19 outbreak.
“The patients are [happy] too, it’s not just because of the pressure of the coronavirus coming out. It’s because we’ve already had practice in place with the telehealth. So, it’s again just putting in extra supportive services, saying to people that if you’re healthy we want to keep you healthy and we want to limit contact as best as we can.”
Mr Wright said that he supported the initiative to make video consultations available from all GPs.
“We do that throughout the year whether the coronavirus is here or not, we’re used to that, so we encourage it more. Our specialists are loving it because sometimes they’re not able to come here. Some girls come in the office but still do tele-health. We’re happy with it.
“The only difference now is that not many people come here. We’re not used to this. We’re like a big extended family, this is busy all the time with all our programs. The Elders and them are always here, in and out. It’s a bit upsetting to us that they’re not here and that’s because of the coronavirus. But we want to make sure that they’re comfortable at home and are doing the right thing for their health.”
The AMA is working very closely with Health Minister Greg Hunt to deliver better tele-health access to all Australians as a matter of urgency in the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, Ms Lett said that Tharawal is doing everything it can to look after the community.
“The community is worried. All we can do is reassure them to remain calm and be [here] for them as best as we can," she said.