'Don't neglect regular healthcare because of Covid-19'

Important: Elderslie's Dr Matthew Grey said it was very important people didn't neglect their regular health care.
Important: Elderslie's Dr Matthew Grey said it was very important people didn't neglect their regular health care.

Don't neglect your regular health check-ups, vaccinations and screenings because of the coronavirus.

That's the message from local doctors, as figures reveal fewer people have been seeking care from their GPs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey, conducted by the Community of Care Collaboration, found 32 per cent of respondents had missed appointments with their GP, 36 per cent were worried about taking public transport to appointments and feared health services were too busy and 31 per cent didn't feel safe visiting in person.

Additionally, 28 per cent found telehealth (accessing healthcare with GPs over the phone) too difficult, and 23 per cent feared they would break lockdown rules if they visited their doctor.

Elderslie GP Dr Matthew Grey said he wanted to assuage any fears the community had about visiting their doctors at this time.

"GPs are still open and they are a safe place to seek care," he said.

"Unless you're in an emergency, your GP should be your first point of call for short-term, chronic and long-term health issues.

"To anyone who is concerned about making a trip to the GP, I would say you are important and your health is important to us.

"Things like your check-ups, blood tests, vaccinations and screening for cancers are all still important.

"If you have concerns, your GPS are there to provide that usual care. I just want to emphasise that we're here for you."

Dr Grey said his practice, Schwarz Family Practice, had strict social distancing rules in place and patients were screened ahead of time to ensure nobody was at risk.

He said it was vitally important that people didn't put off their health concerns until later because of the coronavirus.

"It is important not to neglect your health at this time - I've got genuine concern that people are not managing their health concerns as they were before Covid," Dr Grey said.

"Sometimes, and often, if you delay seeking treatment, you can actually end up with a worse health outcome.

"If you are seen earlier in an illness, you can get more effective treatment at an earlier stage, and this does decrease the long-term problems down the track sometimes.

"It's so important not to neglect your regular health or clinical care so you don't end up with worse or chronic illness down the track."

Federal health minister Greg Hunt said it was critical people continued to manage their general health.

"Your GP is there to hep you follow your treatment plan and improve your health," he said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners also issued a plea last month for all Australians to avoid putting off trips to the GP.