Primary Health Tasmania (Tasmania PHN) is pleased to support the opening of a GP-led respiratory clinic in St Helens as part of the Australian Government’s $2.4 billion health package in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Primary Health Tasmania CEO Phil Edmondson said the St Helens Respiratory Clinic, one of up to 100 the Australian Government is setting up across Australia, will play a vital role in supporting patients in north east Tasmania throughout the pandemic.

“These clinics sit alongside the existing Tasmanian Health Service clinics but are different in that no referral is needed and they offer assessment, testing and initial treatment – not just testing,” Mr Edmondson said.

“People with mild to moderate respiratory or flu symptoms like fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose or shortness of breath can make an appointment themselves. There is no charge for people with these symptoms.

“I am very proud of the fact that Primary Health Tasmania and local health practitioners have worked collaboratively with the Australian Government to deliver this essential service.

“Assessing, testing and treating respiratory patients at dedicated clinics will keep everybody safer.”

Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Claire Chandler, said the Australian Government’s assistance complemented the work the Tasmanian Government was doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“The GP-led respiratory clinic in St Helens will provide assessment and testing as well as dedicated treatment for those people who are experiencing mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, taking the pressure off local healthcare services,” Senator Chandler said.

“As we continue in our fight to prevent the spread of the virus, it’s important that we continue to follow social distancing guidelines, maintain good hand hygiene and remain at home unless absolutely necessary.”

The St Helens Respiratory Clinic is being run by Ochre Health, who also operates the St Helens Medical Centre.

Dr John Hall, Ochre Health Director of Medical Services and President of the Rural Doctors Association, says the clinic has strict infection controls and safety measures in place to protect staff and patients.

He said part of this is a ‘no walk-ins’ policy.

“It’s really important that people make an appointment and follow our team’s instructions when they arrive,” Dr Hall said.

“The new clinic has been established to support people suffering from any mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, keeping them separate from other patients at general practices and health facilities, thereby protecting both staff and patients.

“It will also enable greater numbers of people to be tested for coronavirus, and for positive cases to be identified and isolated quickly in order to minimise the spread of the virus.

“I encourage anyone in the local community experiencing mild to moderate cold or flu symptoms to call the clinic or go online to book an appointment. Anybody with severe symptoms should call 000 immediately instead.”

Tasmanians in the north east with symptoms can book an appointment online via the HotDoc platform (www.hotdoc.com.au) by searching for ‘St Helens Respiratory Clinic’, or by calling the clinic directly on 6351 0007.

Any Tasmanians with cold or flu-like symptoms who are unsure of their testing options should contact their GP or call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

A similar respiratory clinic has opened in Devonport, with two more clinics to be opened shortly – one in Launceston and one in Hobart.

Primary Health Tasmania is one of 31 PHNs located throughout Australia that have been working with state government health services to advise the Australian Government Department of Health on the best locations for these clinics across the country.