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Disease outbreak sweeps Coast, doctors in high demand

THE Wide Bay Public Health Unit is urging members of the community to access the 2017 flu vaccine.
THE Wide Bay Public Health Unit is urging members of the community to access the 2017 flu vaccine. Warren Lynam

AN INFLUX of new doctors is helping alleviate a viral infection sweeping the Sunshine Coast.

The flu season has arrived earlier this winter and is lasting even longer according to House Call Doctor medical director Jesus Lopez.

"This year influenza-like illnesses have presented later and we are seeing prolonged symptoms," Dr Lopez said.

"We're also finding a greater number of cases have been complicated by lower respiratory infections."

House Call Doctor chief operating officer Craig Glover said doctors were kept extremely busy on the first weekend with nearly half of all patients reporting flu-like symptoms.

"Our doctors tell us the flu is hitting hard across all parts of Queensland, and that is certainly what we experienced on the weekend," Mr Glover said.

A major expansion of after hours, in-home callout services into 30 Sunshine Coast towns has given residents an alternative to clogging after hours waiting rooms and emergency departments.

House Call Doctor has responded to community demand and expanded from the Coast to begin treating patients in areas that have been healthcare "blackspots", adding towns from Eumundi to Gympie to it after-house service range.

House Call Doctor first began treating patients on the Sunshine Coast in February last year, and expanded on July 15 to the greater Sunshine Coast.

More than 50 patients have already been treated since the expansion.

"Many of these smaller towns have been blackspots for after hours house calls," Mr Glover said.

"Residents see our cars on the highway and on coastal roads and have been asking us to expand because they also need the service when they're sick at night and on weekends and their regular GP is closed."

Research based on Medicare data shows that without after hours house calls an estimated 760 extra patients a night would flood Queensland emergency departments.

A Deloitte Access Economics report shows after hours home visits save around $180 million a year nationally by keeping people out of hospital emergency departments.

"Regional areas like Gympie are really important to us because people in regional areas deserve the same access to after hours healthcare as those in larger cities," Mr Glover said.

Visit www.housecalldoctor.com.au for more information about after hours services.

Topics:  after hours care ambulance doctor emergency flu illness sick virus