Effects of Coronavirus: Australia’s Small Health Clinics Might Collapse Soon
Amid the rising threat of the coronavirus, small doctor-owned general practices in Australia are now on the verge of a financial collapse due to the falling economy.
General practitioner clinics across Australia have reported a major drop in patient number due to the coronavirus outbreak as there has been a disruption in transportation and people are living in fear to step out of their homes.
The peak body for GP-owned clinics, the Australian General Practitioners Alliance (AGPA) fear that the practitioners might have to close their clinics in a few weeks if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t end soon. Shutting down of the small clinics would further produce a major blow to the already hard-hit Australian economy and the healthcare system of the country.
Richard Hart, an administrator with the AGPA secretariat, said, “Our problem is that we’ve got a primary healthcare system that relies on these small businesses to deliver it.”
“And the small businesses are marginally viable at the best of times. Right now they are not financially viable. Therefore, your delivery system is about to collapse,” he added.
A survey conducted by The Medical Republic, consisting of 175 general practitioners, revealed that almost half of them had lost more than 30 percent of their revenue, while almost one-third of them reported losses less than 30 percent.
“Most practices run with maybe two to four weeks of cash and we’re three weeks into this. So we think that within six weeks we could see some of them closing their doors,” Hart said.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has also reported significant reductions in patient numbers due to the lockdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“The general public should know that general practice is still very much open for business and patients should not neglect their health and wellbeing and usual medical care,” the RACGP president, Dr Harry Nespolon, said.
A general practitioner in Sydney’s Sutherland shire also mentioned about the reduction in the number of patients. “Basically, when all of the isolation measures became more strict, my patient numbers dropped by more than 50%, and certainly in our GP groups people are seeing drops of up to 80%,” he said.
“The flu shot has made that a little bit different in that people are coming in for that [but] I would imagine that once that dies down it will go back to being quiet. Obviously people are worried about going out so they are putting off the minor things they would usually come in for. But then all those routine things like skin cancer checks and mental health plans I think people are also putting off,” he added.
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