Demands for swine flu all-clear stretching GPs
SWINE flu hysteria is stretching GPs unnecessarily, as employers and childcare centres begin demanding doctors’ certificates from employees and parents to prove they or their children do not have the virus.
Dr Adrian Elliot-Smith said his Mount Gambier practice in regional South Australia was straining under the weight of relatively well patients requesting such certificates to enable them to return to work.
“We have people coming into our clinic who are not unwell, but have been told they have to leave work because they have a viral illness,” Dr Elliot-Smith said.
The practice is now asking employers to allow employees sick leave of up to a week, without the need for a sick certificate, to ease demand.
In Queensland, Ipswich GP Dr Paul Curson said some childcare providers were demanding proof of wellness certificates before allowing children back into centres.
“Daycare people were saying, ‘Your child has a runny nose and can’t come in until they’re cleared by a doctor’,” he said.
“I see their point of view, but it was an overreaction.”
In Victoria – hardest hit by the swine flu virus – state AMA president Dr Harry Hemley said the early, unexpected arrival of seasonal flu, whooping cough and upper respiratory infections was adding to doctors’ workload.
“If it was just swine flu, then it would be fine, but it’s not, so we’re inundated,” he said.
Dr Hemley said in many practices, regular appointments for the basic monitoring of chronic disease patients were being delayed to make room for patients presenting with swine flu symptoms.