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Private oncologists welcome subsidised telehealth for vulnerable patients

Health Industry Hub | March 18, 2020 |

The nation’s peak body of cancer doctors has applauded the Morrison Government for its swift and unprecedented move to offer bulkbilled telehealth appointments for certain groups of vulnerable Australians.

The Private Cancer Physicians of Australia (PCPA) said the pace in which the Government has moved to apply Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items to telehealth GP and specialist appointments for patients, most at risk of the COVID-19 virus (or those self-isolating), was unprecedented.

“Like any patient with an underlying chronic health issues, cancer patients are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic,” said the President of the PCPA, Dr Christopher Steer. 

“Our patients are regular attendees at their GP clinics and out-patient clinics, which are now being frequented with those who have the COVID-19 virus.

“If cancer patients, many of whom will have a compromised immunity, can be provided with medical advice and support, over the phone or via a videoconference, rather than sitting in a doctors’ waiting room, then that is a significantly safer option for them,” Dr Steer said.

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The measure MBS Telehealth, was announced by the Morrison Government last week.

This is a temporary six-month measure. Should the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommend an extension, it will be considered by the Government.

“Being diagnosed with cancer and having treatment is stressful as it is,” said Dr Steer. “Knowing you can now access a bulk billed appointment with your doctor, from the safety of your own home, is a very welcomed development and one we hope may continue past this pandemic.”

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