Rocky doctors struggling to keep up with soaring flu numbers
AFTER Central Queensland's lab-confirmed flu cases rose to 519 last Sunday, there have been calls for extra doctors to head to Rockhampton to meet the rising demand.
House Call Doctor General Manager James Wood said the worst is still ahead of us, with the peak yet to come.
For the same period last year, the amount of confirmed cases was 142.
"It's put a strain on our service, trying to meet this demand and we've had to bring doctors up from Brisbane to assist,” Mr Wood said.
"It's an earlier flu season this year, earlier than anticipated, and that's been reflected across the state.
"I think we've got a few more months yet. I think we'll see an increase through to August (the typical flu season last until September) but we can't specify when the season will finish.”
Mr Wood said an increase of doctors within Rockhampton would help prevent non-threatening cases filling up the Emergency Department and allow them to be treated at home.
A strain on doctor numbers would also mean patients would be unable to access appropriate care, said Mr Wood.
"Rockhampton's amount of cases is about where everyone else is,” Mr Wood said.
"From Rockhampton to Hervey Bay, there's been a mass increase.
"2017 was also an early season and was similar to the amount of cases we're seeing this year.”
Despite Mt Archer Medical Centre's Dr Matt Franke urging people to stay away from the Rockhampton Show to reduce to risk of catching the flu earlier this month, Mr Wood said he was couldn't correlate a direct link between the show and the rise in cases.
"But when there's a location with a lot of other people around, you do find that viruses do spread,” Mr Wood said.
"I recommend good hygiene like hand sanitiser and if you are sick and contagious, it's best to stay home and rest.”
House Call Doctor is a state-wide service that provides an after-hours service where doctors visit patients' homes.
The flu has already claimed 192 lives across Australia and 25 across Queensland, with House Call Doctor treating almost 300 patients for flu-like symptoms in Rockhampton this year alone.
Mr Wood said he believes the number of fatalities will rise, but by employing more doctors across the regions, the risk could be mitigated.
"It's important people get to see a GP or us in the after hours, get proper treatment and beyond that get proper rest and the flu vaccine,” he said.
"It's a serious flu season, especially for the young and the elderly, and symptoms can worsen if they don't receive the treatment they need and get properly assessed.
"From the flu, pneumonia can form and there can be fluid on the lungs. It can be quite serious, especially with the elderly.”
Department of Health figures show 32 per cent of people who go to hospital emergency departments could be treated by a GP.
"House Call Doctor's service helps fill the gap for patients when they have a non-life-threatening condition and their GP is closed and supports the State Government's plea for people to keep emergency departments for emergencies,” House Call Doctor Chief Executive Officer Wayne Ormond said.
Make an appointment
- Call 135 566 or download the app to book with House Call Doctor.
- The service is available from 6pm on Monday to Friday, as well as on weekends and public holidays.
- House Call Doctor launched in Rockhampton in July 2015 and now cares for more patients in the after-hours across regional Queensland than any other provider.