Integrating primary care with the health response is key to managing pandemics and other health emergencies. In recognition of this, the Australian Government established a network of respiratory clinics led by general practitioners in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as part of broader measures aimed at supporting primary care. General practitioner (GP) respiratory clinics provide holistic face-to-face assessment and treatment to those with respiratory symptoms in an environment with strict protocols for infection prevention and control. This ensures that these patients are able to access high quality primary care while protecting the general practice workforce and other patients. The GP respiratory clinic model was developed and operationalized 10 days after the policy was announced, with the first 2 respiratory clinics opening on March 21, 2020. Subsequently a total of 150 respiratory clinics were opened and served over 800,000 patients within more than 99% of Australia’s postcodes. These clinics used a standardized data collection tool that has provided the largest and most complete primary care surveillance database of respiratory illness in Australia. The success of the GP respiratory clinic model was made possible due to strong partnerships with Primary Health Networks and individual general practices that rapidly shifted operations to embrace this new approach. This article describes the development and early implementation of this model.
- general practitioners
- primary care