The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) are calling on state and territory governments to ensure the ongoing health response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes access to essential health care services.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price and APA President Scott Willis are united in their support of federal, state and territory measures to control COVID-19, including lockdown restrictions where warranted, but have urged governments to maintain critical health care services, such as urgent physiotherapy treatment, to those in need.
After almost 12 months of pandemic upheaval to the lives of all Australians, it is imperative that the impacts of our COVID-19 policy response on health is measured, and balances urgent need with restriction of community movement. The past year has shown that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in our community, the same people for whom urgent care is often most needed.
General practice has played a key role in maintaining and protecting the health of the Australian public and has ensured that individuals requiring urgent medical attention get the care they need.
However there are significant health implications of limiting access to urgent physiotherapy during lockdowns. In many instances, unless prompt health care is provided by a physiotherapist, patients are likely to experience worsening pain and/or exacerbated health conditions.
GPs have long respected the role that physiotherapy plays in patient health and wellbeing, and the federal government also recognised physiotherapy as an essential service when Australia first went into lockdown in 2020. Recent lockdown events in Qld, WA and Victoria have nullified the essential care status of physiotherapists, with potentially dire and unintended outcomes.
As we continue to manage this global pandemic, it is essential that access to all clinically appropriate, urgent health care is maintained, for the good of all Australians.
Quote attributable to RACGP President Dr Karen Price:
“Receiving regular and ongoing health care is more important than ever during this pandemic, whether that be from a trusted GP or a physio who can provide urgent pain relief during an acute episode. Ensuring unrestricted access to important primary care like this is what will hold us in good stead as we emerge from the pandemic over the next 12 months.”
Quote attributable to APA President Mr Scott Willis:
“Physiotherapy’s role in primary health care is well established and widely recognised. We can support the pandemic health efforts and ensure the public is safe at the same time. Let’s get on with it.”
Scott Willis is available for further comment.
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