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ACT health minister calls on Australian government to address ‘fundamental’ GP shortage to tackle COVID | The Canberra Times


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The federal government’s $180m investment in-home treatment for mild COVID cases is welcomed but serious conversations about a fundamental challenge of the pandemic is needed, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says. The federal program was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt on Friday as he predicted the nation would pass 80 per cent full-vaccination in its 16-and-over population within the next 10 days. The initiative is aimed at boosting GPs’ and primary care’s support for COVID cases in home and community-service settings to limit the impact of the expected case rise on hospitals. Ms Stephen-Smith said the Commonwealth’s program, which includes the availability of pulse oximeters to help detect any deterioration of COVID-positive patients, would complement the territory’s own COVID Care@Home program that has been running for the past two months. However, she said the fundamental challenge “is that we simply don’t have enough GPs”. “I am sure all of my state and territory colleagues will continue to urge Minister Hunt to come to the table to have a serious conversation about the pressures that existed prior COVID and the additional pressures COVID has created right across the health system,” she said. “Across Australia, inadequate funding means GPs are struggling to provide comprehensive care to patients with high levels of complexity, placing extra pressure on hospital systems.” In the meantime, Ms Stephen-Smith said it would be important that the latest federal initiative “is truly integrated between primary care providers and state and territory-run acute and community services”. “I would be concerned if Minister Hunt uses this announcement as a reason to walk away from shared funding responsibility for the COVID care at home programs that the ACT, NSW and Victoria have been successfully running for some time,” she said. As of Saturday, the ACT had 231 active cases while the number of cases associated with this outbreak now stands at 1644. There were 1133 negative tests received in the 24 hours to 9am Saturday. The percentage of the eligible population who are now fully vaccinated has reached 92.3 per cent. MORE COVID NEWS Meanwhile, the ACT government on Saturday also announced that travel restrictions to and from COVID-affected areas in NSW and Victoria would be managed based on “high-risk geographical areas” from November 1. These areas consist of nine in NSW and 44 in Victoria. Anyone who is not vaccinated and has been in one of those areas in the previous 14 days will still need an exemption and be subject to stay-at-home orders for 14 days. They are only allowed to enter the ACT for essential reasons. Vaccinated travellers are permitted to enter the ACT for any reason, but will have to apply for an exemption online and provide their vaccination certificate. Interstate travel outside of high risk geographical areas can occur freely for any reason for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people. All ACT residents will be free to travel outside the territory; however, entry to other states and territories is subject to the rules of that jurisdiction. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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