The RACGP responds to the hospital crisis

“Never before has the family doctor been so important, and yet we face a future where the long-term sustainability of GP care is threatened and GPs are blamed for an overburdened hospital system.”

Health systems across Australia continued to battle COVID-19 cases and the start of what health experts have predicted will be the worst flu season in nearly a decade.

Queensland Children’s Hospital posted online on Tuesday explaining that it was treating a large number of children with croup, RSV, influenza and COVID-19, and subsequently the emergency department was “very busy”.

The hospital said staff are working hard to see every child as soon as possible.

“But wait times may be longer than usual as we see the sickest and most seriously injured children first,” the message read.

“As always, your local hospital is well placed to care for your child near you. For less urgent matters, please consider taking your child to your local GP.

But dozens of parents have reported that they cannot take their children to their GP for coughs or standard flu symptoms due to restrictions around COVID-19.

A parent reported a five-hour wait Tuesday night at the hospital.

Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital faced similar capacity pressures last week.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said GPs were “working tirelessly”.

“I know a lot of them have closed their books on new patients because they just can’t fit them in,” she said.

“We have so many GPs retiring and there are not enough GPs coming in to replace them.

“I have GPs in towns like Townsville retiring and there are still 300 elderly residents who are not being cared for.

“So what do they do? Staff pick up the Queensland Ambulance Service phone and request an ambulance to take this person to hospital as they have no qualified staff and they are no longer served by GPs in their region.

D’Ath reiterated his calls for 50-50 federal health funding, saying there were currently 520 long-term patients in hospitals across Queensland who did not need medical attention, but needed an NDIS or an aged care program.