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COVID-19 - FAQ: Outpatient appointment changes

Outpatient appointment changes

An important role of Queensland Health is to do everything possible to contain the spread of COVID-19 within our communities. Queensland Health is committed to ensuring our hospitals are well equipped to respond to an increase in demand on our Hospital and Health Services because of the COVID-19 outbreak and to ensuring the most time-sensitive and medically necessary care, whether COVID-19 related or not, can be delivered.

As Hospital and Health Services deal with this unprecedented situation, some services will be impacted.

This includes outpatient clinics. Affected patients may have received a notification to advise that their appointment:

  • has been moved
  • has been changed to a telephone or telehealth appointment
  • has been cancelled and postponed
  • remains unchanged

The below advice aims to provide information in response to questions about why and how appointments have changed in response to COVID-19.


 

Why has my outpatient appointment been changed?

Decisions regarding changes to outpatient appointments are based on (but are not limited to):

  • The need to limit potential COVID-19 exposure for patients and staff by postponing non-urgent outpatient appointments to limit the number of people in the clinic and enabling physical distancing.
  • Utilising technology such as telehealth and phone clinics to minimise physical contact.
  • The need to conserve personal protective equipment, such as surgical face masks and gowns, for the most critically unwell patients requiring urgent care.
  • Ensuring there are enough staff and resources to manage and care for the most critically unwell patients.
 

Why has my appointment been changed to a phone or telehealth appointment?

If you have received notification that your appointment has changed to a phone or telehealth appointment, it’s because your clinical team is confident they can provide you with the care you need without physical contact. This is important to protect both yourself and staff to minimise the unnecessary risk of exposure to COVID-19.

  

My appointment has been changed to a telehealth appointment. What is telehealth?

The Queensland Health Telehealth Portal provides an easy, safe and secure way to videoconference (VC) with your doctor or health professional from within a web browser on your personal computer (PC), laptop or Mac; or through an app on your tablet or smart phone.

If you have received a notice that your appointment has changed to a telehealth appointment, you will be contacted with further information and support on how to set up telehealth on your personal device.

Your appointment will still be conducted by a clinician from your treating team. Depending on your situation, your clinical team may include a specialist doctor, a medical registrar, a specialist nurse or an allied health clinician such as a pharmacist.

Telehealth allows you to see, hear and speak to your treating. clinical team from the comfort of your own home.

To find out more about telehealth, search for ‘Telehealth Queensland’ on Google.

  

My appointment was cancelled. Will I get another appointment?

Yes, you will be offered another appointment as soon as we are able to provide you with a new appointment date and time. You will remain on the outpatient appointment list and will not lose your position on the waiting list.

While responding to COVID-19, clinical teams are triaging patients to ensure the most urgent patients are seen first.

Please continue to monitor your condition with your General Practitioner (GP). If your condition is too serious to wait, you should present to the closest emergency department or call 000.

  

My appointment was cancelled but my condition is worsening. What do I do?

Contact your GP to discuss your care and to provide you with advice on how to manage your condition. If required, your GP may request the hospital book an urgent appointment for you.

If your condition is too serious to wait or is an emergency, call 000 and ask for an ambulance or attend your closest hospital emergency department.

  

I received a message that I am still required to attend my upcoming appointment, but I am sick or in self-isolation or quarantine, or awaiting a COVID-19 test result. What should I do?

To ensure the health and wellbeing of all patients and staff, if you are currently

  • in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 precautions (including waiting for a test result),
  • sick, have any COVID-19 symptoms no matter how mild,
  • or unable to attend this appointment for other reasons,

You must let the hospital know as soon as possible for Bundaberg Hospital 4303 8222 and 41841581 Hervey Bay Hospital, so they can notify your treating team and arrange another date for your appointment.

  

I have heard that outpatient appointments are being postponed but my appointment is still proceeding why was it not cancelled?

Your clinical team has requested that your outpatient appointment proceed because it is not clinically appropriate to delay your appointment. Our specialists are determining which outpatient appointments proceed and when, to ensure the safety of both patients and staff.

  

What do I need to know prior to coming to hospital for my appointment?

  • A hospital staff member may contact you to inform you of any COVID-19 testing requirements and to confirm your vaccination status. The staff member may ask a number of clinical screening questions including if you have any signs or symptoms and if you have had any exposure to COVID-19.
  • To practice physical distancing (staying 1.5 metres away from others where possible) and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Queensland Health has introduced temporary changes to visitor arrangements.
  • From 17 December 2021, only fully vaccinated persons can visit vulnerable facilities for any reason and unvaccinated persons for limited reasons (e.g. end of life, parent or guardian, legal advocacy.
  • A person is considered to be fully vaccinated if they have supporting evidence that proves their vaccination status, indicates they have a recognised medical contraindication, or are a COVID-19 vaccine trial participant.
  • It is recommended that you contact the hospital directly to confirm their visitation rules and visiting hours, before leaving home.
  • All admission, waiting and consultation areas, toilets, and shared spaces are being frequently cleaned and hand sanitising facilities are available throughout the hospital for your use.
  • If you are unwell, please phone the hospital prior to arriving for your appointment.
  • From 9 July 2021, hospitals must collect contact information of visitors, volunteers and contractors using the ‘Check In Qld’ government app, unless an exception applies. This is so public health officials can contact individuals in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in Queensland
  

I would like to know more about COVID-19

To stay informed and up to date with current advice and requirements about COVID-19 you can.

Visit the Queensland Health website at www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus

Download the Check in Qld government app at:

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

If your health worsens or you have any further questions regarding your condition, please contact your General Practitioner. If your condition becomes an emergency, call 000 or present to your nearest emergency department.

  

Frequently Asked Questions

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Referral Update

From July 1, 2020, Category 3 specialist outpatient referrals that were previously returned to general practitioners can now be re-referred to the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service.

From August 1, 2020, WBHHS started to accept new Category 3 specialist outpatient referrals.

These outpatient referrals were temporarily returned to general practitioners due to the national suspension of non-urgent elective surgery, as part of Australia’s COVID-19 response. This meant all Category 3 elective surgeries and some Category 2 elective surgeries were temporarily postponed, and Category 3 outpatient referrals could not be accepted.

WBHHS continues to have one of best wait time records in Australia and, even with the disruptions that have been caused by COVID-19, we’ll continue to do our utmost to see patients within clinically recommended timeframes.

For more information about specialist outpatient appointments or elective surgery, go to:

Got any of these symptoms? Get tested.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, diarrhoea, vomiting/nausea, or loss of smell or taste – you should be tested. To find out where to get tested in Wide Bay, visit our  fever clinics page

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service

Last updated: 25 March 2020