Specialist physicians urge people with chronic health conditions not to defer visits

May 6, 2020

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is urging the public, particularly people with chronic (long-term) health conditions, not to defer visits to their specialists during the pandemic.

Professor John Wilson, President of the RACP said “We are concerned that some people in the community are deferring specialist treatment, as some practices are reporting a reduction in patients seeking help for ongoing conditions. There has also been a drop in referrals for expert care over recent months.

“We understand it’s a scary time, particularly for vulnerable people with pre-existing health conditions.

“Deferring a visit with a specialist might feel like a short-term solution, but we don’t know when this pandemic will be over. Indefinitely delaying specialist support right now could result in serious complications and further compound existing health problems.

“People with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk when it comes to the impact of COVID-19, and they must be able to access the specialist care that they need with reassurance and safety. We are encouraging them to use Telehealth to access the specialist care they need, where their specialist agrees this is appropriate. 

“Now, during a global pandemic, is the worst time to discontinue or defer consultation between patients and their healthcare providers.

“We want to remind the public that Telehealth is now available for a wide range of specialist visits, and that visiting your specialist via Telehealth is far better than missing an appointment. If unsure, we recommend asking a carer or trusted family member to arrange the dial-in for Telehealth for you. 

“We’re also urging parents not to delay their children’s visits with paediatricians, to ensure that kids don’t go without the expert care they need during this time.

“While there are some health problems that require face to face consults, many problems can be addressed via Telehealth, at least initially. Patients should get in contact with their specialist via phone to discuss what method of consultation is going to be right for them.”

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