GPs need resources to manage post-acute COVID patients: RACGP

Paul Hayes

15/10/2020 1:32:17 PM

A new college publication is designed to help GPs manage the long-term effects of COVID-19.

RACGP resource cover
GPs need government support to properly care for the potentially significant ongoing needs of people who had COVID-19, according to the RACGP.

As the world continues to study and come to terms with COVID-19 and its long-term effects, RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda believes one thing is likely: GPs will be managing affected patient for years to come.
‘[The] long-term effects are likely to be particularly severe for older people, those with chronic disease and those who experienced severe acute COVID-19. GPs will be crucial in managing the health and wellbeing of these patients in the years ahead,’ he said.
The RACGP’s Caring for adult patients with post-COVID-19 conditions has been developed to help GPs providing care to adult patients who have previously tested positive for, or have a history suggestive of undiagnosed, COVID-19.
‘Some COVID-19-positive patients quickly make a full recovery, but that is certainly not the case for all people,’ Associate Professor Shenouda said.
‘Evidence is emerging that some patients are being left with serious physical, cognitive and psychological impairments that will require long-term care.
‘For these patients, it is not a case of contracting the virus, getting better and never thinking about it again.’
GPs need government support in caring for these potentially significant ongoing needs, according to the RACGP Acting President.
‘A voluntary patient enrolment model, where clinics receive additional payments for enrolling a patient with a regular GP, would be particularly beneficial for these patients,’ Associate Professor Shenouda said.
‘Post-COVID-19 health impacts will take a significant toll on many patients, including on their mental health. The guide is mindful of this and includes information on accessing mental health services or online supports.
‘The Federal Budget included a $100.8 million investment in extending the doubling of Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people who have used their initial 10 sessions. That is a welcome announcement that will make a real difference; however, in the longer term, many patients … would benefit enormously from new Medicare subsidies for longer consultations.
‘Longer consultations allow GPs to take the time to talk through what our patients are experiencing and how we can help them.
‘Similarly, new Medicare subsidies for longer consultations for people with chronic conditions would be very helpful. These are the patients who require a bit more time and attention, particularly if they have had COVID-19.’
The new guide includes information on:

  • infection-control precautions and advising patients that having COVID-19 does not necessarily result in immunity
  • collaborating with the patient to develop an individualised plan to support their recovery
  • providing care for specific groups, including those with severe COVID-19, older patients and people with disability
  • options for enhancing support for patients, including home delivery of medicines, assistance with food and meals, and access to support lines.
Caring for adult patients with post-COVID-19 conditions is available on the RACGP website.
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