In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian shores, plunging the health care system into uncertainty. This presented many challenges, including rapidly escalated demand for clear, trusted information, limited personal protective equipment, and an overriding need to keep our communities safe.
Primary care quickly rose to the challenge thrust upon them and continued to do what they do best: focusing on their patients, putting their care and wellbeing above all else. General Practitioners (GPs), practice nurses and practice managers kept abreast of high volumes of information, attended ongoing virtual education sessions, and quickly shifted work practices, allowing them to continue care.
As COVID-19 continued to shift and change, so too did the work of general practice. Today, general practice plays a key role in vaccinating against, and managing, COVID-19, whilst providing ongoing care.
Recently released data clearly demonstrates the immense workload that primary care has taken on.
Snapshot of general practice contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic
During the pandemic, GPs in Queensland have:
- administered the majority of COVID-19 vaccinations
- provided ongoing support to the community for chronic disease, while seeing a substantial increase in patients for mental health support
- adopted telehealth as a key platform to maintain delivery of services to the community
- played a substantial role in direct system response by successfully establishing community GP Respiratory Clinics, and by playing an active role in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
When vaccination became available, general practice, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and General Practice Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) worked long hours, including opening after hours and on weekends, to administer 5.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, between February 2021 and March 2022.
Managing increased demand
In addition to taking on vaccination, the system shifted to predominantly GP-led COVID-19 management. Yet, while this workload increased, the ongoing needs of their patients did not stop. Over this period, shifts in patient attendance and activity:
- increased demand for health assessments by 4.8%
- increased demand for chronic disease management by 11.5%
- increased demand for mental health care by 10.6%.
It is with thanks to the primary care sector that Brisbane South PHN shares these statistics demonstrating the immense workload that they have shouldered, and the incredible support they have offered the community, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
While the Australian Government helped fund this document, it has not reviewed the content and is not responsible for any injury, loss or damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided herein.
All information and content is provided in good faith by Brisbane South PHN and is based on sources believed to be reliable and accurate at the time of development. Brisbane South PHN does not accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage as a result of any errors, inaccuracies, incompleteness and or discrepancies in the data, nor does Brisbane South PHN guarantee or make any representations as to the data.