Flood-affected areas to receive boost with GP telehealth services

Morgan Liotta

1/03/2019 3:49:32 PM

The Federal Government has announced it will provide essential telehealth support services for rural communities impacted by the Queensland floods.

The new Medicare items will provide greater GP telehealth services to over a dozen flood-affected areas of Queensland. (Image: Dan Peled)
The new Medicare items will provide greater GP telehealth services to over a dozen flood-affected areas of Queensland. (Image: Dan Peled)

The recent devastating floods have disrupted rural communities across Northern Queensland, with many in need of extra support.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has unveiled telehealth support services to assist rural patients in flood-affected areas of Queensland will be provided from 2 March.
The Government will introduce eight new Medicare items that will allow rural and remote patients in flood-affected areas to receive care from their regular GP via phone, email or videoconference until 30 June. The new items are the same as the current standard GP consultations, and will attract the same Medicare fees and rebates.
‘People living in these communities already have an enormous burden to deal with as they move into the recovery stage and start to rebuild their lives,’ Minister Hunt said.
‘If they cannot get to their doctor, then they can now access their services through video conferencing covered by Medicare.
‘The new items will ensure that more than 240,000 people can access quality medical services they need, when they need them.’
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon welcomed the announcement, highlighting the significance of support to people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
‘The 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,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘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.’
Chair or RACGP Rural, Dr Ayman Shenouda, said the services will 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,’ Dr Shenouda said.
Patients in the following areas of Queensland will be eligible for the new telehealth services:

  • Burdekin
  • Burke                                                                           
  • Charters Towers                                                                                                                       
  • Cloncurry
  • Cook
  • Doomadgee
  • Douglas       
  • Flinders
  • McKinlay
  • Palm Island
  • Richmond
  • Townsville
  • Winton
  • Wujal Wujal

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