While many businesses and health facilities have been impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis, Gynaecology Centres Australia (GCA) has remained open for business as usual throughout the pandemic. We are an essential service and, since the crisis began, our doctors have continuously provided our patients with the highest standard of care, for which we are renowned.

We are 100% committed to the health and safety of our patients, our staff, and the community, and as such we have a stringent COVID-safe protocol in place. We continue to provide the highest quality of care for women seeking an abortion in NSW and the ACT.

At GCA, we provide surgical abortion, which is the gold standard of patient care. This is the most reliable method of terminating a pregnancy and has fewer complications than medical abortion.

(We do also offer medical abortion in a minority of cases where our doctors deem it to be most appropriate for the patient. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. Our expert doctors follow a strict protocol for the provision of medical abortions, and this includes onsite blood tests and ultrasounds before the procedure, and dedicated follow-up after the procedure.)

Our commitment to providing outstanding women’s health and abortion services is unwavering.

July 2020 Telehealth Restrictions

The COVID-19 health crisis has seen a dramatic rise in the number of telehealth consultations being offered to people within Australia. This has been a boon as it has enabled people all over the country to remotely access the health and medical services they need, and it has been bulk-billed by Medicare, ensuring that nobody is left without healthcare due to financial constraint or isolation.

In July 2020, however, the Federal government tightened the rules pertaining to telehealth. These changes have directly impeded some women’s access to gynaecological, reproductive, sexual health, and abortion services. It has been extended by 6 months but it is most likely to disappear altogether after the pandemic.

What are the Recent Changes to Telehealth?

Telehealth refers to bulk-billed phone consults with a doctor or other health provider.

The Federal government, despite appeals by women’s health providers, has now restricted the eligibility criteria for bulk-billed telehealth consults to GPs who have an existing clinical relationship with their patient over the last 12 months. This has ostensibly been implemented to reduce the perceived exploitation of the Medicare rebate by pop-up healthcare providers.

While these changes have been widely welcomed by the AMA (Australian Medical Association) and RACGP (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners), the rate of patients seeking telehealth consults has dropped significantly since July.

What are the Implications?

Abortion, sexual health, and other women’s health concerns are complex issues which often incur impromptu consultation and treatment, rather than via a long-term GP. Providers of these services also require specific training, which GPs have rarely, if ever, undertaken.

Many women do not have easy access to care, especially those who are:

• Rural
• Remote
• Very young
• Culturally diverse
• Linguistically diverse
• Disadvantaged

Many of these women do not have a regular GP and may not have a high level of health literacy. They also may not be able to afford to pay for the full rate for telehealth services – without the Medicare rebate and bulk-billing, this is quite expensive.

Loss of access to bulk-billed telehealth consults translates to a loss of access to STI checks, contraception, cervical screening, breast checks, and much more, including abortion services. It also directly contributes to higher rates of unplanned pregnancy – driving the cycle of poverty for women and their families. It also compromises a woman’s control over her own body – which is a basic human right.

Without Telehealth, there is No Healthcare

Ideally, specialised women’s health providers and services should be exempt from the telehealth restrictions, both while the COVID-19 situation is ongoing and thereafter.

Gynaecology Centres Australia – OPEN NOW

All Gynaecology Centres Australia clinics are OPEN AS USUAL. We don’t have to rely on Telehealth services because our care for women has not changed during the pandemic. Even before Telehealth became a popular and well-talked-about service, GCA was still providing after hour phone services for our patients (at no extra costs) since the very beginning of the organisation in 1998.

The doctors at GCA all have superior levels of expertise gained over many years of providing abortion services to Australian women. That’s our commitment.

We understand how stressful the ongoing COVID-19 situation is for everyone. We are a Category 1 provider and are committed to continued excellence and providing our patients with the services they need and deserve, when and how you need them.

We have implemented enhanced infection control practices with additional precautions throughout our clinics.

For a confidential, compassionate discussion, please call us on (02) 9585 9599.

Alternatively, contact us today via our website here.