COVID-19 and seeing your doctor at GSH

- 12 March 2020

Updated 27/03/2020 – the post below is not up to date. Please visit https://gshealth.com.au/covid-19/ for up to date information.

Lets start with the most important points first to reduce the chance of getting an infection, spreading an infection, and getting tested for an infection

We’ll get to the nitty gritty later.

What you should/could do to reduce the chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19;

  • Work from home if it is possible
  • Avoid large social gatherings, particularly if you are unwell or are often in contact with unwell or immuno-compromised patients (heart disease, diabetes, cancer sufferers, on medication that suppresses immunity)
  • If you are unwell and it feels like a mild cold, stay at home, you can call the National COVID-19 Triage hotline on 1800 020 080, or you can contact us for a teleconsult
  • If you want testing, please be aware we may not be able to offer it if you have very few risks or contacts – if your workplace is asking you to be cleared this may not be possible until testing capacity is ramped up (guidelines for testing are available here)
  • For those who have a history of travel overseas in the last 2 weeks before becoming unwell, have any upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, or were in contact with a confirmed case of COVID, then we can help arrange testing through a teleconsult
  • Once you are tested you MUST remain home until your test is negative
  • If you arrived from China, Iran, South Korea or Italy in the 2 weeks before your illness, and you have a negative COVID-19 test – you must remain home until both 2 weeks have elapsed since leaving those countries, and until you feel completely better

Good social distancing will flatten the curve.


Back to the nitty-gritty

In order to reduce the risk of exposure between patients to patients, and patients to staff, we are offering telephone consultations for patients who are experiencing;

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath
  • Potential COVID-19 exposure
  • Or any signs of a cold or flu

Telephone consultations at GS Health

To screen effectively for the above, and to explain to everyone the process we are taking these appointments by phone. 

You can still book online and attend the clinic if you are not suffering from any of the above.

When you do attend the clinic, we will ask the same questions again, as people often have booked appointments before we instituted these policies, and to clarify any questions  you may have.

If you have any inkling of symptoms, a sniffle, a mild cough, staff will offer you a mask and we ask that you kindly wear it during  your time in the clinic, and only remove it when your doctor is examining you. If you refuse to wear a mask if offered,  will not be able to see you. We are looking after some of the most medically vulnerable members of our community, and masks are not given out lightly.

Unfortunately, the current medicare rules do not allow us to provide a MEDICARE (MBS) REBATE for telephone consultations provided. As we are a private billing clinic, our standard consultations have always cost $85.

At present the cost of a telephone consultation is the same as a standard 15 minute consultation, which is treated like a regular appointment. You will have an allocated time for your doctor to call you, and all necessary paperwork, pathology requests, medical certificates, follow up and contact will be covered by this fee. 

The Government Telehealth package

The new telehealth item announced by the federal government unfortunately doesn’t go far enough to help reduce the spread of transmission.

It appears to be limited initially only to those who have already seen/spoken to a doctor and are quarantined, and can only be offered when they are quarantined. It also hamstrings centres that have committed lots of funds to extra PPE, staffing, and a level of service that can only be maintained by that fee structure – then to be told they can only offer in restricted situations.

For clinics that are bulk billing, follow up consultations can now be rebated for people who are quarantined, above 70, immunosupressed, or pregnant. For private billing clinics, this can not be offered to patients as a rebate.

The simple solution being called for by the medical community, is to remove the ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENT for the regular consultation numbers in general practice.

This would effectively allow ALL general practices and general practitioners in Australia to be able to offer telehealth consultations, without any added penalty for patients for doing the right thing and trying to reduce the spread of infection.

The current item as structured is going to force people to attend in person, to clinics that can not afford to offer telehealth item consultations or have the capacity to provide enough PPE.

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