Coast doctors fear hundreds will die
GENERAL Practitioners fear hundreds of Gold Coasters with chronic conditions will die if they keep putting off routine yet crucial health checks because "they're too afraid to come in" because of the coronavirus.
"I'm worried people are suffering or, worse yet, might die from health complications because they are too afraid to come in to see us because of the coronavirus," said a northern Gold Coast doctor, who did not want to be named.
"Waiting rooms that are usually packed are quiet, people who would usually be here are not coming in and that means people with poorly controlled diabetes, emphysema, high blood pressure, asthmas and skin conditions are not being treated," he said.
"I fear we're going to see more deaths from this than the COVID-19 - it's a major health crisis."
Dr Sonu Haikerwal, of Haan Health in Upper Coomera and Broadbeach, said she recently diagnosed two people with cancer, one of whom was only seeing her to get the flu vaccine.
"It's a very important message we want to communicate to our patients, health checks and recalls, especially for those with chronic diseases, must be done," she said.
"We doctors have always been capable of maintaining infection control, even before the coronavirus pandemic, our practices are safe places.
"Everyone due for a review of their health plans need to come in, blood tests and cancer screenings tests must get done too, there is no need to delay or reschedule.
"These checks are very important, and by seeing their GP people will be in a better position to get through this coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming flu season."
Dr Haikerwal said while a lot of tele-health consults were being done, face-to-face visits were also necessary in some cases, as were pathology tests and radiography services.
"We still need to send people with heart conditions to the hospital. I've also had two cancer diagnoses in the last few days, someone who was going to delay a breast ultrasound and I saw her for the flu vaccine. It turned out to be cancer.
"Just let us guide you. If we send a reminder then please follow that up, it's more important than ever before."
Local GP and Gold Coast Primary Health Network board chairman Dr Roger Halliwell said it was "absolutely critical" people returned to their doctor.
"We know quite a lot of modelling has been done on the cost of this outbreak on people, and many will die of other things because they won't get the treatment they need.
"Visits to GPs must ramp up again it's absolutely critical."
Dr Halliwell said skin checks, in particular, should not be delayed, because last year there were thousands of newly diagnosed melanomas on the Gold Coast.
"People need to make their health their priority," he said.
Gold Coast Health's director of emergency medicine associate Professor David Green said people should not avoid the hospital because they thought it was too busy or had sicker COVID-19 patients to care for.
"For example, anyone experiencing chest pains or symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), absolutely should not try to 'wait it out' at home," he said.
Originally published as Coast doctors fear hundreds will die