This is a long post, but please read it as these are major changes and they start next week. Sorry about the short notice, but the Government's final to us were only delivered last night! Please bear with us whilst we work to fine tune new processes over coming weeks.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME IF I HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?
- If you have symptoms consistent with Covid-19 please call reception as you normally would. Please do not walk into the medical centre.
- When you consult with a doctor (either by phone or in-person) because you have symptoms consistent with Covid-19, you will now pay a standard fee for that consultation (free for children under 14 years old).
- Infectious patients seeing a doctor in-person will be asked to do a RAT before they come. If it is positive, please phone and tell reception in advance. RATs will not be routinely repeated at the medical centre. If you do not have a RAT at home, please try and source one from friends/neighbours (whilst maintaining distance in case you have Covid) or order some online https://requestrats.covid19.health.nz/. If you cannot source one before your appointment, we will ask you to come 30 minutes early and you will be given a RAT on arrival to do yourself in your car.
- If you are physically unable to RAT at home, we can arrange this through the clinic, but there may be a fee for this service as we are no longer funded for it. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME IF I HAVE COVID-19? -If you have Covid please upload your result as normal (via My Covid Record or by calling 0800 222 478 and choosing option 3). If it is a normal working day, we will be checking for new Covid positive notifications in our inboxes and, if indicated from reviewing your records, we will contact you within 2 working days for an initial assessment. If we contact you, you can rest assured that the consultation is funded and that there will be no charge to you. If waiting 2 working days means that you would be beyond day 5 of your illness, you will need to call reception to arrange an initial assessment and wait for us to call you (antivirals are only able to be prescribed within the first 5 days of your Covid infection). If it is not a normal working day, we suggest that you contact a pharmacy that is providing antiviral medications (not listed here as pharmacies providing this service and their opening hours are ever changing). You can contact our reception if we are open, and assessments will be done if capacity allows. We no longer have funding for an extra doctor to provide Covid specific care at weekends.
- If you cannot upload your result and you think that you are eligible for an initial assessment, please call our reception. You will be offered a thirty-minute doctor's telephone appointment. Please note that this will continue to be free to you as long as you either qualify for antiviral medicines (https://covid19.govt.nz/…/medicines-to-treat-covid-19/), OR you are in a "priority population", which includes: • Māori and Pacific Peoples • Disabled people • People with severe mental health and addiction issues • Older people (65 and over); and • Other inequitably impacted population groups, including: • Migrant ethnic communities, • Remote and rural people, • Rough sleepers, • People in transitional housing, and • Those not enrolled in primary practices If you are not in either of these groups there will be a charge for the consultation.
- If you have Covid and are really unwell and you need an in-person assessment, we will arrange a 30 minute "cabin" appointment for you. Note, this will no longer be funded for all patients, and you may be charged a fee. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? The Government wants Covid-19 care to become part of 'Business as Usual" and to be treated in a similar way to other infectious illnesses. However, we know that Covid can be a very serious or fatal illness for some, whilst others can have symptoms that linger for months affecting their quality of life. This means that despite reducing funding, the Government also wants us to maintain good infection control measures like seeing Covid positive patients in full PPE and in a dedicated room, and also separating infectious, but Covid negative, patients from others. We worry that these funding changes will result in inequity and create more pressure on our Emergency Departments where care is perceived to be free (it actually costs the taxpayer far more than a GP visit). Please know that these changes have been forced on us at short notice and that we will try to look after you as best we can within budget and resource constraints. If you want General Practice to continue to provide you with a high standard of care, we encourage you to lobby your MP asking for General Practice funding to match the needs of 2023. Changes to eligibility for free COVID-19 healthcare | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)