Doctor from your car: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it’

DOCTOR surgeries in Bowen have rolled out a range of new procedures to keep patients and staff safe, including bulk-billed telephone appointments and even car appointments.

In an effort to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in doctors’ surgeries, the government made free video and phone consultations available to all citizens as of March 30.

The bulk-billed telehealth appointments will assist elderly and at risk patients from exposing themselves to potentially high-risk areas of transmissions, while still allowing access to healthcare, health advice and support from GPs.

Bowen Medical Centre had telehealth phone and video consultations in place for the last few weeks, with the options for car appointments also available, practice manager Sharon Bradford said.

Mrs Bradford said the medical centre had put several new protocols in place to limit the risk of transmission for the staff and patients.

“We’ve been limiting the number of patients in the waiting room, they can wait outside and we’ll call them when the doctor is ready to see them,” she said.

“We can see patients in their car, or people can use the telehealth or conference calls.

“I’ve been working here for 27 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Mrs Bradford said the video and telehealth appointments would be bulk billed under the new government initiative, and were reserved for those high risk category patients including the elderly, immunocompromised or patients with young children.

Mrs Bradford said the surgery would not be taking on new patients at the moment, and the new telehealth appointments would not necessarily suit all patients.

“We’re not doing a lot at the moment but, we have a lot of different procedures in place, we’ve limited the number of patients and we won’t be taking more patients on,” she said.

“Most of our doctors prefer to see and diagnose a patient, there are just some situations where you need to see a patient.”

Mrs Bradford said anybody who was unable to get an appointment could contact the Telehealth Doctor NQ on 1300 255 562.

Queens Beach Medical Practice also rolled out patient-wide bulk billing services as of April 1.

The practice announced it will be bulk-billing all current patients for the majority of services, with the exception of excisions and non-government funded vaccinations.

The practice will also be offering essential medical appointments via phone and some telehealth conferences as requested.

Queens Beach and Herbert Street practices were contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publishing.

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