This article was first published on 14 December in Northern Star Weekly.
A GP-run respiratory clinic will open in Hume and Whittlesea in a bid to take the strain off hospitals facing predicted surges in COVID-19 and influenza cases.
The clinic is part of a planned roll-out of 20 GP-run clinics across Melbourne.
Five of the clinics are already operational, with the rest opening over the next few weeks.
The facilities, which will be open seven days a week and after-hours, are being set up through a process run by three Primary Health Networks (PHNs) – North Western Melbourne, South Eastern Melbourne and Eastern Melbourne.
Funded by a $23 million investment by the Victorian government, the clinics will enable hundreds of people each week to access testing and respiratory assessment close to home for COVID-19 and other conditions such as influenza and thunderstorm asthma., the PHNs said in a statement.
Clinics will also be opened in Melton, Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Wyndham, Moreland, Darebin, Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Monash, Kingston, Cardinia, Banyule and Booroondara.
Eleven of the clinics will be in the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) catchment.
The clinics were commissioned following a rigorous expression-of-interest process, through which GPs were asked to demonstrate that they could provide respiratory assessment services safely and do so over extended hours.
Services are offered to all Victorians, regardless of whether they have a Medicare card. Some patients will be referred to the clinics by GPs and hospitals, but appointments aren’t essential.
“These GP-run respiratory clinics will allow adults and children with mild respiratory symptoms to receive high quality, accessible care in the community, rather than presenting to a hospital,” NWMPHN chief executive Christopher Carter said.
“This will help relieve pressure across the health system and go towards the PHNs’ primary aim of making sure everyone can access the best health care when and where they need it.”
The GP-run respiratory clinics complement several federally funded GP respiratory clinics already in operation.