The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) says GPs in flood-affected Queensland are going above and beyond to care for patients and must be recognised as essential health services.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins, who practices in Mackay, said the College has long been urging governments to introduce reforms to support GPs caring for communities impacted by disasters.
“When disasters strike, GPs are on the frontline supporting their patients and communities – they will do whatever it takes to keep their doors open so people have ongoing access to care and support,” she said.
“And it’s critical that general practices are recognised as an essential service in times of disaster, so they get the support they need to stay open. It could be something as simple as getting the electricity restored. GPs in previous disasters have told us they battled to provide care because their electricity wasn’t restored as a priority, like it would be for the local hospital.
“GPs are essential in supporting individuals and communities before, during and in the aftermath of natural disasters and emergencies. And the RACGP is continuing to call for GPs to be included in disaster planning groups at all levels of government – this will ensure GPs on the frontline aren’t held back from doing all they can to support their communities.
“As President of Australia’s peak GP body and a Queenslander, I want to thank the GPs and practice teams who are working tirelessly to ensure flood-affected communities have ongoing access to care in these incredibly challenging times. Your work is so important, please remember your College is here to support you.”
RACGP Queensland Chair Dr Cathryn Hester said the RACGP is working to support its members affected by floods.
"I’ve been speaking to GPs working across the flood-affected communities in Queensland, and thankfully the majority of practices in Cairns have been able to get back up and running,” she said.
“The RACGP is working with the Department of Health to expedite support for practices in flood-affected areas, including ensuring access to essential medical supplies and medicines.
“We are also working closely with other health groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health bodies and the Queensland Government, to ensure Queenslanders in affected areas have ongoing access to care, and all essential health services have the support they need.”
The RACGP has a dedicated floods page on its website with information to help GPs in flood-affected areas: www.racgp.org.au/qld-floods
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.