The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement of 26 new GP-led respiratory clinics.
The 26 new clinics announced today will bring the total number of GP-led respiratory clinics across the state to 53, including Commonwealth-funded clinics, with 36 in metropolitan Melbourne and 17 in regional Victoria
GP-led respiratory clinics enable patients to receive free and immediate treatment for a range of respiratory conditions such as asthma, influenza, and pneumonia.
RACGP Victoria Chair Dr Anita Munoz welcomed the announcement.
“This additional funding to open new GP-led respiratory clinics is needed more than ever,” she said.
“Winter has well and truly arrived in Victoria, and we are seeing more and more cases of respiratory conditions, including colds and influenza, as well as COVID-19.
“Throughout the pandemic, the RACGP has been consulting with the Victorian government on what GPs and our patients need. And one of the key issues has been access to care for people with respiratory symptoms, particularly families with young children.
“The GP-led respiratory clinics are designed to meet this demand, and the funding to open 26 more clinics when we are dealing with increasing respiratory illness in our state is very welcome.
“This flu season is particularly bad. We have seen a resurgence of flu since borders re-opened and lockdowns ended.
“GPs have been seeing patients with severe symptoms that linger for weeks. And there have been significant hospitalisations of children under five, which is due to the fact that babies born during the pandemic have never been in contact with the virus and have no immunity.”
“Of course, the best protection against both influenza and COVID-19 is vaccination. And I urge people to make sure they’re up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, and consider an influenza vaccination – which is free for all Victorians until July 10.”
Dr Munoz also called for urgent reforms to ensure access to GP care for all Victorians into the future.
“The health system in Victoria and right across Australia is still reeling from the fallout of the pandemic, including dealing with catch-up care due to people avoiding health appointments during lockdowns, people with long-COVID, and now a wave of influenza on top of COVID-19 cases.
“Before the pandemic, general practice was already under pressure due to rising rates of chronic disease, mental health issues and our ageing population.
“This is why the RACGP has been urging the federal Government to implement long-term reforms to boost general practice and ensure all patients can access the care they need when they need it.
“We need to stop tinkering around the edges and get serious about health funding reform, because everyone deserves access to high-quality and affordable care, no matter their postcode.”