A survey of 815 doctors shows that many patients have been avoiding their doctors during the pandemic and this isn’t good for anyone says AMA (NSW) President, Dr Danielle McMullen.
“85 per cent of the doctors surveyed said they are seeing fewer patients than normal.
“This strong majority was across nearly all specialty groups who responded.
“When it came to surgeons and anaesthetists, more than 95 per cent of them reported seeing fewer patients.
“More than half of the surgeon respondents said they are only seeing a quarter of their usual patient numbers and one in 10 is seeing none.
“Nearly half of GPs said they are seeing three quarters of their usual patient numbers and a third said they are only seeing half.
“This is worrying because it means there could be a lot of serious illness going undiagnosed and untreated.
“It’s doubly concerning because these low levels of activity could risk the viability of some of these practices, especially in rural and regional areas.
“On top of that, about half of the doctors surveyed said they are increasing the rates at which they bulk bill.
“Doctors often do this when patients have hit hard times but because bulk billing rates have not kept pace with the cost of delivering care, this is not something that many practices can sustain in the long-term.
“That would mean it’s not just a doctor out of a job but also their support staff and patients potentially no longer being able to access care.
“So, please, if you think you need to, see your doctor.
“COVID-19 can cause serious illness but rates of community infection are low and doctors are taking precautions to make their practices safe.
“We are in the lucky position in Australia to have low rates of coronavirus – but now your risk of ignoring other health problems is greater than your risk of COVID-19 infection.
“Delaying care could have serious, even deadly consequences .
“Risk management is hard but these survey results point to all of us reacting to one threat to the potential exclusion of others.
“So, don’t do that, see your doctor if you’ve got a health concern or chronic illness,” Dr McMullen said.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones 0419 402 955