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COVID-19 - FAQ: Outpatient appointment changes

Outpatient appointment changes

WBHHS remains committed to ensuring the most time-sensitive and medically necessary care, whether COVID-19 related or not, can be delivered by our hospitals.

As we deal with the unprecedented situation being experienced across the world because of COVID-19, some of our outpatient services will be impacted. Because of this you may have received a notification that your appointment:

  • Has been moved
  • Has been changed to a telephone or telehealth appointment
  • Has been postponed
  • Remains unchanged

Referral Update

From July 1, 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, 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:

 

This factsheet answers questions you may have about why your appointment has changed in response to COVID-19.

  

Why has my outpatient appointment been changed?

Changes to outpatient appointments have been made to protect patients and staff, in part to enable better physical distancing as well as to utilise technology such as telehealth and phone clinics where clinically appropriate.

Between March and July, WBHHS – like other health services across Queensland and Australia – stopped accepting new referrals for non-urgent appointments and procedures at the direction of the Federal Government, in order to focus on urgent work and the COVID-19 response.

These outpatient referrals were temporarily returned to general practitioners.

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

  

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.

  

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.

  

My appointment has been changed to a phone or telehealth appointment. Will I be called / seen by a doctor?

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 Psychologist or Dietitian.

  

My appointment has been cancelled due to COVID-19.  Why was I not offered a phone or telehealth appointment?

If you have received notification from the hospital that your appointment has been cancelled due to COVID-19, this is likely because the clinician needs to see you in person. You will be offered another appointment as soon as we can provide you with a new appointment date and time.

  

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) or clinician who referred you for this appointment.

  

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. What should I do?

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

  • in self-isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 precautions,
  • sick, have a fever, and/or a flu-like illness,
  • or unable to attend this appointment for other reasons,

Please advise us as soon as possible so we can notify your treating clinical team and arrange another appointment for you at a later date. Our contact details will be on your appointment letter.

  

I received a message that I am still required to attend my upcoming appointment. Why was it not cancelled?

Your ongoing clinical review in the outpatient clinic is important to ensure that your medical condition is being monitored for changes.

Your clinical team has requested you attend in person because of your specific care needs.

  

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

  • There is a visitor restriction of a maximum of one carer per patient
  • Please adhere to physical distancing requirements by keeping a minimum of 1.5 metres between yourself and others when you attend the hospital
  • All outpatient waiting and consultation rooms, toilets, and shared spaces are being frequently cleaned and sanitised
  • Hand sanitising facilities are available in outpatient areas and throughout the hospital
  • If you are unwell, please phone the hospital prior to arriving for your appointment.
  

What is WBHHS doing to manage physical distancing at specialist outpatient appointments?

Due to the large volumes of patients attending for a wide range of specialist outpatient clinics on any one day, we acknowledge there are sometimes challenges with maintaining physical distancing.

However, our teams are working hard to protect patients through a range of measures including seating changes, the presence of a screening nurse, monitoring waiting area numbers, asking patients to wait in their cars and offering more telehealth appointments where appropriate, as well as some longer-term changes to infrastructure and patient flows where possible.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work on the best possible solutions for our patients and staff.

  

I would like to know more about COVID-19

To stay informed and read the latest announcements about COVID-19 and up-to-date advice for your situation, go to www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

If your health deteriorates or you have any further questions regarding your condition, please contact your GP.

  

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 - FAQ: Elective surgery
FAQ - Elective surgery changes
Feeling unwell?
If you have a fever (or history of fever) OR acute respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath), call your GP for advice, visit one of our fever clinics or, in an emergency, call 000.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service

Last updated: 25 March 2020