Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien is urging Australians with chronic health conditions not to neglect their regular health care, but continue to consult with their usual doctors.
The Australian Government has expanded Medicare-subsidised telehealth services so that all Australians can access them, and is providing extra incentives to general practitioners to support access to essential primary health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr O'Brien urged people to ensure they kept up their regular health checks in order to manage any conditions they may have as well as their overall well-being.
"If you have a regular appointment booked with your doctor, please ask your medical practice if this can be carried out using a telehealth consultation such as by telephone, or video call, or if you need to see your doctor for a face-to-face consultation," Mr O'Brien said.
"If you are taking regular medication for a chronic condition, it is essential that you continue to take your medication. If you run out, please contact your doctor or your local pharmacy to arrange a repeat prescription."
Mr O'Brien said to further stop the spread of COVID-19, people could now have their PBS medicines delivered to their home from the community pharmacy of their choice through the Australian Government "COVID-19 Home Medicines Service".
"There is no additional cost to have their medicines delivered to their home through this service, and it helps ensure people can access their medicine even if they are self-isolating," Mr O'Brien said.
Mr O'Brien said it was important to ensure your health did not take a back-seat even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Whether you go the GP in person, or have a consultation through the expanded telehealth network, it's critical that people continue to manage their general health throughout the COVID-19 health emergency," Mr O'Brien said.
"If you have regular blood tests as part of the management of your chronic health condition, please continue to have your blood tests done at your local general practice or local pathology collection centre."
Chronic conditions include arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and mental health conditions. These are leading causes of illness, disability and death in Australia.
In Australia, these common chronic conditions contribute to 61 per cent of the burden of disease, 37 per cent of hospitalisations and 87 per cent of deaths.
"It is essential you continue to have screenings for important conditions, such as bowel cancer - nobody wants people to develop cancers which could have been easily treated if picked up early," Mr O'Brien said.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has this week launched Expert Advice Matters, a nationwide campaign to stop people from neglecting their health concerns during COVID-19. A website, www.expertadvicematters.com.au, has been set up with straightforward, practical advice for patients.