More communities benefitting from COVID-19 assessment and treatment closer to home

Six Commonwealth endorsed GP Respiratory Clinics are now active in WA, with the recent opening of clinics in Albany and Clarkson adding to those in Geraldton, Halls Head, Alexander Heights and High Wycombe.

Several more clinics are set to open soon, with two based in Perth focused on providing care for Aboriginal and other people, and a third located in Port Kennedy.

Three health care workers stand in personal protective equipment
The Halls Head Respiratory Clinic Team.

The clinics are designed to limit the risk of vulnerable people encountering people who are positive to COVID-19 or seasonal influenza, and to protect the health workforce from infection.

WA Primary Health Alliance General Manager, Bernie Kenny said while daily cases in WA have slowed, the clinics provide an alternative option to regular general practices or hospital emergency departments.

“If GPs have patients who they believe could be COVID-19 positive, or who present with respiratory symptoms that put the practice staff or other patients at risk of infection, they can refer such patients to the nearest GP respiratory clinic for testing.

“Patients visiting these clinics fit a narrow subset of the total number of patients who visit GPs.

“They will see patients only by appointment and, with their permission, will share the results of their tests with their regular GP to ensure continuity and coordination of care.

“For all other healthcare needs, people should continue to visit their usual GP who knows them and their medical history well.

“This is particularly important for people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease, or for people needing an annual flu vaccination.”

As part of the primary health response to COVID-19, WA Primary Health Alliance has been working on the development and launch of these GP-led respiratory clinics, as part of our role to shape, strengthen and sustain a health system that works for people.

The clinics serve an important role as part of the national campaign to curtail COVID-19. However, as a new entry into the health system, it is important for clinics to:

A woman sits in her car receiving a health test from a health professional in personal protective equipment.
Testing at the Albany respiratory clinic. Credit: The Great Southern Weekender
  • reassure patients so they can be confident in seeking a free, safe assessment and test
  • clarify the criteria for the testing of mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, and
  • raise awareness of the service, so that people who meet these criteria can be referred for assessment.

All GPs can now offer appointments via telehealth or face to face when required and have infection control procedures in place to keep patients safe.

The full list of Clinics is available on the Australian Government Department of Health website.