Respiratory clinics close as pandemic response ceases

EACH's respiratory clinic in Lilydale has ceased operations as the pandemic response closes out. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 285906_03

As the pandemic response comes to an end, so too are the final remaining GP respiratory clinics (GPRC) established from 2020 to 2022 in response to Covid-19.

This includes the Lilydale clinic located on Lakeview Drive, a State government funded facility run by EACH and the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN).

The clinic ceased operations on Friday 27 October, one of the last 16 still providing services to do so this year.

Initially designed to alleviate pressure on the hospital system during the height of the pandemic, GPRCs also offered specialised treatment and assessment for anyone experiencing conditions like asthma, hayfever, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema pneumonia, influenza or mild shortness of breath.

“Demand for GPRC services has decreased significantly in recent months. The remaining 16 GPRCs will close by 31 October 2023, when the 2023 influenza season ends,” EACH posted on the respiratory clinic website page.

GPRCs will return to being standard GP practices providing care closer to home for residents.

These are being supported by the introduction of Priority Primary Care Centres (PPCCs), like the one announced for Maroondah Hospital, which will continue to treat respiratory conditions, as well as minor infections, cuts and burns, while facilitating pathology and imaging services.

“The Victorian Government stepped into primary care during the pandemic, providing immediate support to patients with respiratory illness and saving critical hospital resources for the sickest of patients,” health minister Mary-Anne Thomas said.

“Now we are no longer in the emergency phase of the pandemic, our PPCCs are playing a similar role – providing Victorians with urgent care when they can’t get in to see their GP but don’t need to be at an emergency department.”

Anyone experiencing respiratory or illness like pneumonia, shortness of breath, Covid-19 or flu/cold symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, cough or fever, should contact their regular GP or Nurse-On-Call or for urgent care contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department or a PPCC.

If the symptoms are critical, advice is to attend the nearest emergency department.