The first GP-led respiratory clinic in the electorate of Cowper will open on Tuesday, May 5 as part of the Australian Government’s $2.4 billion health package to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Federal Nationals Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan said this was a great development as the clinic at the Nambucca Healthcare Centre on the corner of Giinagay Way and Willunga Avenue would assist the community’s path back by increasing testing for coronavirus.

“Our community has done a terrific job of slowing the spread of coronavirus and I thank residents for adhering to the social distancing restrictions in place to achieve this,” he said.

“We now have an important second tool in our kit to combat COVID-19 and that is a respiratory clinic in Nambucca Heads delivered through Federal Nationals in Government funding.

“Led by local clinician Dr Nicholas Martin and staff already known to many in the local community, it will be an easy, welcoming place for residents with mild to moderate symptoms to come and get tested.

“And the more residents that get tested, the better we will be able to identify people with the disease and who they have been in contact with through the COVID-Safe app and get life gradually back to normal.”

Federal Nationals Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said the Government was working with local GPs and Aspen Medical, which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas, to rollout up to 100 respiratory clinics across the country.

“The Government is focused on ensuring rural and regional communities are prepared to respond to this pandemic,” Mr Coulton said.

“That’s why we are putting in place a range of measures including additional practice incentives and the expansion of telehealth to enable the rural medical workforce to continue to care for rural people.”

The Federal Nationals in Government have invested $206.7 million nationally for the respiratory clinics. Each clinic is given block funding to help it set up and services are provided for free to patients.

North Coast Primary Health Network CEO Julie Sturgess said the six respiratory clinics being established throughout the North Coast complemented the fever clinics set up at hospitals through joint funding from the Commonwealth and State Governments.

“Having this respiratory clinic at Nambucca Heads will reduce the number of people with moderate respiratory symptoms from presenting at hospitals and GP practices,” Ms Sturgess said.

“Respiratory clinics in our PHN area are now open in Murwillumbah, Yamba and Nambucca Heads, with Ballina to also open later this week.

“I encourage anyone in our community experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms to go online to www.health.gov.au and use the online booking system to make an appointment.”

Nambucca Healthcare Centre Practice Manager Sheree Smith said having a local GP-led respiratory clinic would give the local community great peace of mind during this unprecedented time.

“People showing mild to moderate respiratory symptoms – a cough or sore throat – will be able to come and be tested without concern of infecting others as the clinic has been set up to meet the highest standard of infection prevention and control,” she said.

“Our clinicians are up-to-date on the best practice for testing and treating COVID-19, so we will make sure our testing is as fast as possible and as accurate as possible.”

Before presenting at the Nambucca Healthcare Centre for testing, it is important residents first either book online at www.health.gov.au or call 6568 8688. In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is important people attend the clinic only at the time of their booking so that social distancing can be maintained.