‘Pharmacies are still open.’

Don’t wait, mate: More than half of Aussies are avoiding healthcare during COVID-19, but this collaboration urges people not to delay getting help

It’s important not to neglect other areas of your mental and physical health despite COVID-19 taking centre stage, the Continuity of Care Collaboration has reminded Australians.

The collaboration comprises leading health organisations including Medicines Australia, the RACGP, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Pathology Awareness Australia, Hepatitis Australia and Mental Health Australia, among others.

“Some health services have changed how they operate during COVID-19 restrictions, but if you have a healthcare appointment coming up or have new symptoms you are worried about, it’s important not to delay getting help,” they wrote in an open letter published this month.

“Pharmacies are still open, with pharmacists ready to provide advice as well as the medicines you need, and home delivery of medication can also be arranged,” they said.

“Clinics and hospitals are continuing to practise safe distancing measures, regular cleaning and wearing of personal protective equipment. Telehealth is now widely available, so you can access your healthcare professional through video chat or phone calls.

“For appointments that still need to be done face-to-face, such as scans and pathology tests, we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider to find out the best option for you.”

The collaboration’s aim is to communicate the importance of looking after one’s health, whether that is managing a chronic health condition, getting preventative screening tests or pathology tests, or seeking immediate treatment and care for urgent and/or new symptoms.

Its letter comes after a Consumer Health Forum Survey found 52% of Australians are avoiding their healthcare during COVID-19.

“Patient safety and continuity of care is extremely important, particularly for those patients who have chronic and complex diseases or conditions, vulnerable populations, the elderly, and the immunocompromised,” said the collaboration.

“There are mounting concerns that Australians are not maintaining their regular doctor visits for existing chronic conditions and/or putting off seeing their doctor to get a test, investigation, or immunisation due to fears of contracting COVID-19 or burdening the health system.”

Read the full letter here

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