AMA wants GPs to order tests

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
AMA WA President Dr Andrew Miller. Coronavirus. Picture Jackson Flindell The West Australian
Camera IconAMA WA President Dr Andrew Miller. Coronavirus. Picture Jackson Flindell The West Australian Credit: The West Australian

The Australian Medical Association is calling on the State Government to allow regional GPs to order COVID-19 testing.

Testing criteria widened today to include all patients with a fever above 38C, a documented history of fever in the past few days or acute respiratory infection.

However, AMA WA president Dr Andrew Miller said regional GPs should have the power to order testing through local pathology clinics if they thought it was necessary. Dr Miller said it was difficult to know how far the illness had spread in the regions because test rates were too low.

“We don’t understand why the Government wants to control all of the testing,” Dr Miller said.

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“If they allow the private pathology companies to do the testing like every other disease, then we would have a clearer picture of the beast.

“Regional GPs know their patients and their area, they should not be boxed in with rules and regulations.

“The regions are incredibly vulnerable with very few resources at the best of times.

“We need to get as many people tested as possible similar to Iceland — the World Health Organisation says ‘test, test, test’ and that's what we support.”

Bunbury resident Darren Gittos said he had been referred to the Bunbury COVID-19 testing clinic by his GP with coronavirus-like symptoms, but had been refused a test.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said she was backing calls from the AMA to expand testing in the regions.

“It is essential that people are able to be tested on GP opinion, in addition to anyone with a history of fever and illness,” she said.

“As we have more vulnerable health care facilities it is essential we are on top of what the extent of the community spread has been so far and are ready to respond accordingly.”

Yesterday afternoon the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the South West remained at nine.

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