Government failure on telehealth services puts vulnerable patients at risk

The Federal Government has failed an early test of its pandemic response by refusing to extend COVID-19 telehealth services despite the ongoing challenges to our health system, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says. 

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said the refusal of the Government to extend Medicare-funded COVID-19 telehealth services from 1 July would limit vulnerable patients’ telephone access to doctors. “This decision means telephone access to doctors will be significantly limited and this will hit vulnerable patients hardest, including those who do not have access to high bandwidth internet and those who can’t operate the necessary IT systems,” he said. 

“This means that older patients, those with chronic health conditions including cancers and those who are immune suppressed will have less access to care from tomorrow and may be put at increased risk of contracting COVID if they now have to attend their doctors appointment face to face. 

“Each day thousands of Australians are required to self-isolate because of a COVID-19 infection and as a close contact. Many of these people will not be able to continue to access medical care when they need it.” 

“Broad access to Medicare-funded telehealth has played a critical part in the pandemic response, reducing exposure to the virus and supporting people in self-isolation to be able to access critical medical care. 

"The Labor Party criticised the former government’s pandemic response over the past two years and in not extending access to COVID telehealth settings it must now face the same criticism. 

You can read our full position statement here.

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