Medical leaders urge people to manage their care

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Continued concern over the significant decline in the number of people accessing their regular healthcare in response to COVID-19.

Chronic conditions that include arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and mental health conditions, are some of the leading causes of death in Australia. They contribute to 61 per cent of the burden of disease, 37 per cent of hospitalisations and 87 per cent of deaths.

In a joint statement yesterday, health minister Greg Hunt and medical leaders including AMA president Dr Tony Bartone urged people with chronic conditions to not neglect their regular health care and to continue to see their general practitioner or specialist.

According to Dr Bartone, one pathology company has reported a 40 per cent decline in tests in recent weeks. The concern extends to community pharmacy where social distancing rules have significantly reduced in-store visits.

Minister Hunt referred to recent changes to ameliorate the potential negative health effects of social distancing, including telehealth consultations, facilitating greater use of e-prescriptions and postal delivery of medicines.

"If you are taking regular medication for management of a chronic condition, it is essential that you continue to take your medication. If you run out of medication, please contact your doctor or your local pharmacy to arrange a repeat prescription," he said.

"To further stop the spread of COVID-19 Australians can now have their PBS medicines delivered to their home from their community pharmacy of their choice through the Australian Government 'COVID-19 Home Medicines Service'. There is no additional cost to have their medicines delivered to their home."

Minister Hunt also announced the federal government is releasing 11 million face masks for frontline health workers, including 500,000 for pharmacy.