I would like to introduce to you this special issue of Connect which focuses on COVID-19.
These are unprecedented times, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a huge disruption to the working lives of the medical profession and much of society. Doctors from all parts of the profession, from front line care to giving expert advice to Governments, have stepped up in a remarkable response to this threat to our patients, our colleagues and our own families.
Avant has fielded thousands of members’ calls in recent weeks and responded to a tranche of new issues doctors have faced due to COVID-19. From these calls our medico-legal team have developed the advice provided into articles to support members as we move through to the next stage.
This edition of Connect takes a look at some of the challenges doctors have faced during the crisis including ethical dilemmas, financial repercussions and the effect on our health and wellbeing. The impact on the mental health of frontline healthcare workers in other parts of the world has been severe and we’ve seen it to an extent in Australia as well.
One of the bigger adjustments we’ve had was the shift from face-to-face consults to telehealth. Two members describe their experiences which highlight the benefits and downsides. I am also grateful to Dr Harry Nespolon (President of RACGP) for sharing his thoughts on this matter. Another article provides a case study of a telehealth consultation that highlights medico-legal issues, which our experts then address.
As Australia enters a three-stage plan to open back up the economy, we will examine how practices have had to cope and what the ‘new normal’ looks like. Testing for COVID-19 is going to be with us for some time. We explain the issues related to it and the rationale behind tests. Another new normal is electronic prescribing. This has been fast-tracked and is one of the few silver linings to emerge from the crisis.
I hope you find the articles in this issue of Connect are relevant to you as we work through the next phase of the pandemic together and as always, we welcome your feedback on these topics. We have moved to a digital and contactless issue of Connect during this period but will resume our traditional format for our end-of-year edition of Connect.
Thank you for your tremendous efforts in managing the health emergency. Avant is a doctor owned and run organisation. It is an honour to serve the profession and I assure you that Avant stands with you in the face of this and other challenges throughout your career.
Dr Beverley Rowbotham
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