Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus has seen hundreds of fearful Australians skip crucial health appointments, experts claimed.
Medical professionals are now warning that hundreds may die from cancer and serious illnesses as a result.
‘We’ve just terrified people into believing that the only safe place is home, no matter what so they’re ignoring chest pain and other symptoms,’ Victoria Atkinson, chief medical officer at Healthscope said.
‘COVID is not our only priority or more important, and it is safe to go to hospitals and people musn’t delay their care,’ she told the Australia Financial Review.
Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus has seen hundreds of fearful Australians skip crucial health appointments, experts warned (pictured: An elderly man gets a Covid-19 test at a testing site at the shopping centre in Melbourne)
During the nationwide lockdown in March pathology cancer notifications fell by 28 per cent (pictured: Bourke Street in Melbourne on Wednesday)
During the nationwide lockdown in March, pathology cancer notifications fell by 28 per cent, down to just 120 people a day.
And since Melbourne was thrust back into Stage Four lockdown on Saturday, August 2, those figures have dropped once more.
During the first lockdown many patients feared they were less important than COVID-19 patients, or were concerned about visiting hospitals over fears they may become infected.
David Speakman, chief medical officer at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said when patients finally showed up for their appointment their cancer had progressed further than what they had traditionally seen.
‘That means their chance of cure is decreased, the consequences are more severe and that may translate to more deaths down the road.’
Cancer Australia CEO Professor Dorothy Keefe said a quick diagnosis provided the best chance for a patient to beat cancer.
The urgency for treatment also depends what type of cancer a person has, Ms Keefe said.
Medical professionals are now warning that hundreds may die from cancer and serious illnesses as a result (pictured is Nurse Catherine Askin performing a consultation with patient Rachel Roth at the COVID-19 and flu assessment clinic in Sydney)
Experts are concerned that there could be an explosion in cancer diagnosis after the pandemic as many people have put off going to their GP during lockdown
‘For example, prostate cancer you can delay for a bit, but lung cancer you can’t delay,’ she told nine.com.au.
The federal government announced funding for telehealth consultations during the pandemic, however, many people may be unaware these services can be used for non-coronavirus related issues.
Bulk-billing incentives for GPs were also doubled by the government for in-person and telehealth consultations.
However, despite these measures GPs experienced a huge drop in patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dilip Dhupelia, president of the Australian Medical Association Queensland, told the ABC that patient numbers were down by as much as 40 per cent in some clinics.
Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus has seen hundreds of fearful Australians skip crucial health appointments (Pictured: People line up outside the Royal Melbourne Hosital for coronavirus testing)
Bruce Willett, the Queensland chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners added that some GPs were experiencing such a huge drop in patients they were struggling to remain open.
‘Some GP practices have not really noticed much of a downturn, but other practices have noticed a really significant downturn and are really struggling to remain viable,’ he said.
He said he was aware that some practices had applied for JobKeeper payments.
Figures from the Medicare Benefits Scheme confirm the downturn, showing a 10 per cent drop in GP visits in the first three months of 2020.
This equates to about to about 100,000 less appointments.
What will still be open in Melbourne Stage 4
Supermarkets, bottle shops, petrol stations, pharmacies, post offices, banks
Retailers working onsite to fulfill online orders
Hardware, building an garden supplies for trade
Specialist stationery for business use
Motor vehicle parts for emergency repairs, mechanics
Locksmiths, laundry and dry cleaners, maternity supplies
Disability and health services and equipment, mobility devices
Farms and commercial fishing
Vets, pounds and animal shelters
Supermarkets will stay open
Construction of critical infrastructure and services to support those projects
Critical repairs to homes where required for emergency or safety
Cafes and restaurants for takeaway
Critical service call centres
Law enforcement and courts for urgent matters
Prisons, facilities for parolees, adult parole board, youth justice facilities
Essential maintenance and manufacturing
What will be closed in Melbourne Stage 4
Personal care including hairdressers
Pubs, taverns, bars, brothels and prostitution services, clubs, nightclubs
Food courts, restaurants, cafes, etc
Architectural, engineering and technical services
Travel and tour agencies
Non-emergency call centre operations
Non-urgent elective surgery
Museums, parks and gardens, ski resorts
Places of worship except what is required to stream services or provide soup kitchens and food banks
Manufacturing of non-metallic mineral and fabricated metal products, furniture, wood, textile, leather fur, dressing knitted, clothing and footwear, domestic appliances
All office-based and professional businesses, except those delivering critical services, must work from home
OPERATING BUT LIMITED
Building sites of more than three storeys – 25 per cent of workforce
Less than three storeys- five workers on site at a time only
Meat processing – workers cut by a third
Shopping centres for access to permitted retail only
Public transport, ride share and taxis only to support access to permitted services for permitted workers
Thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing with minimum number of essential participants to operate safely