HomeGreg Hunt: Expanding support for at-home Covid-19 care as vaccine rates soar

Greg Hunt: Expanding support for at-home Covid-19 care as vaccine rates soar

The Health Minister has outlined how Australia will transition to a new phase of Covid treatment as vaccination rates approach the next major trigger point.

With Australia set to reach its next major trigger point on the national plan within 10 days, the Health Minister has outlined how Covid-positive people will be treated.

Greg Hunt anticipates Australia will reach the 80 per cent double-dose vaccination mark by next weekend, which would trigger phase C of Australia’s plan for reopening.

As vaccination rates soar across the country, a “new era” of healthcare co-operation between state and territory providers and community-based doctors and nurse practitioners has been outlined and will mean asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic Covid-positive patients are treated at home, not in hospitals.

Mr Hunt announced the six-part $180m package from Melbourne beside the president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the chief nursing officer.

“We start with a $25 Medicare item, as a face-to-face bonus for general practitioners treating Covid-positive patients, or suspected Covid-positive patients in the clinic. That will attach to any other appropriate item the GP is using,” Mr Hunt said.

“This is a bonus for them in seeing patients face-to-face and recognising the additional cost of cleaning, etc.

“(Second) as patients are being treated at home, we’ll make available pulse oximeters which allow for (at-home) oxygen reading. It will be a critical part of identifying whether any patient at home is starting to deteriorate in any form.”

Mr Hunt said the package would also support GPs, nurses and medical deputising services to carry out home visits. GP respiratory clinics will continue to remain open until at least June 30, 2022, telehealth systems will continue to be supported, and Covid-positive patients will be able to get scripts filled without needing a doctor’s visit.

“We want to ensure where possible people who are fully vaccinated and are not at risk of becoming a greater health issue for them that they will have treatment at home,” Mr Hunt said.

“If someone is unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and not deemed a (health) risk, they will also be treated on this path.”

RACGP president Karen Price said the announcement would save hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“That’s important for people who need to attend hospital for other acute injuries or illnesses,” she said.

As of Friday, 87.9 per cent of eligible Australians have received one dose, while 76.2 per cent are fully vaccinated.

In addition, booster shots have begun being delivered at GPs across the country.


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