This information was prepared mid-May 2020 to address some of the FAQs concerning accessing medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Is it safe to see health professionals at the moment?”
Yes, GP clinics, pathology/diagnostic centres and hospitals are experts in both preventing and detecting infectious diseases. They follow best practice to minimise the risk of transmission of all infections, including COVID-19.
Your general practices or health centre might look a little different, but the changes are designed to reduce risk and keep everyone well. Changes may include staff wearing masks and/or asking people to wait outside or in their car to keep space between patients. If you are concerned, ask the receptionist when you call about what to expect at the clinic and what steps they have put in place to keep you safe. If you are still worried ask to have your appointment by phone or Telehealth (from the safety of your own home). Further information can be found at: http://www.wacountry.health.wa.gov.au/telehealth and at https://thesocialpresskit.com/seeyourgp
New temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule Telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers. For more information, visit:
“Aren’t health services too busy at the moment for anything else?”
No, your GP, pathology/diagnostic tests and medical appointments are not on hold because health services are busy with COVID-19. Appointments are available and restrictions on Category 2 and 3 medical procedures in hospitals have been lifted so Category 1, 2 and 3 procedures are able to be scheduled.
For more information, visit: https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/McGowan/2020/04/Elective-surgery-to-resume-in-Western-Australia.aspx
“Can’t my symptom wait until after COVID-19 blows over?”
Cancer does not stop or slow down for a global pandemic. If your symptom involves blood, for example: coughing up blood or blood in your poo or pee, it needs to be investigated straight away.
For any other persistent body changes which have gone on for four weeks or more, it’s important to seek medical advice now rather than waiting any longer.
This ensures any further investigation, or in some cases, treatment, can begin as soon as possible. If it is cancer, the earlier it’s found, the better the chance of successful treatment.
“What about the regional border closures if I need to travel to another region or Perth for tests or treatment?”
As this is constantly evolving, the best thing to do is visit www.wa.gov.au for the latest on any travel restrictions within Western Australia.
People travelling between areas with border closures for medical tests/treatment have been able to receive exemptions by applying for a Good2Go pass from the Police. If this applies to your location, we also recommend having your doctors’ phone number with you in case it is needed to verify the purpose of your trip.
For more information or to apply for a Good2GO pass, visit www.g2gpass.com.au
“What about cancelled flights if I need to travel to another region or Perth for tests or treatment?”
Regional Express and Virgin have flights for medical staff and medical investigations or treatment when travelling to/from Perth and: Albany, Esperance, Carnarvon, Monkey Mia, Kalgoorlie, Newman, Port Hedland, Karratha, Broome and Kununurra.
Visit www.rex.com.au/default.aspx and https://travel.virginaustralia.com/au/minimal-network-schedule for more information.
“If I have to go to Perth for cancer treatment where will I stay?”
Cancer Council WA has two self-catering accommodation lodges in Perth for cancer patients and their carers from regional WA to stay at while they access treatments and appointments in the Perth metropolitan area. A range of social distancing and hygiene protocols are in place for guest safety.
For more information about these facilities, visit https://www.cancerwa.asn.au/patients/support-and-services/accommodation-services/
“Is it safe to travel to Perth?”
It’s best to discuss any concerns about your personal susceptibility to infection with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to provide personalised advice about any specific precautions you should take in whilst traveling to and staying in Perth. These may include method of travel or additional distancing measures.
It is worth highlighting that Western Australia (including Perth) currently has only a few active cases and community transmission of COVID-19. For more information visit https://www.covidlive.com.au/wa
“Is there anything I can do to prepare for my Telehealth appointment?”
Yes. This video created by Cancer Council Australia offers five helpful tips on preparing for a smoother Telehealth appointment.