Skip to content

COVID Impact Survey reveals negative affect on wellbeing of primary care workers and management of chronic health conditions.

A negative influence on emotional and mental health of primary care staff and management of chronic health conditions has been identified as the two areas of most concern in primary care, following the results of the latest Primary Care COVID Impact Survey.

VIEW THE Primary Care COVID Impact Survey

Throughout the pandemic Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network, (The PHN) conducted three COVID impact surveys of general practices and primary care providers - the survey results highlighting areas of concern, identifying needs and providing rationalisation for a range of ongoing support activities undertaken throughout the pandemic.

Primary care providers were surveyed for the third time in April 2022 to assess the ongoing impact and to determine what, if any changes need to be made to primary care support activities. The attached infographic presents the recent and comparative results.

The PHN CEO, Richard Nankervis said the results were unsurprising. “Workforce shortage, driven by COVID restrictions on international recruitment, isolation rules and illness, have all created this perfect storm for GP burnout and fatigue. The PHN is addressing this issue through the successful implementation of several incentive schemes to recruit GPs to our region. In the past 12 months, our incentives have recruited 26 new GPs to the region. We will continue active recruitment to support and grow the general practice workforce.”

“Similarly, we know that with lockdowns and isolation came a dramatic decline in health screening and chronic disease management. The impact of this will be seen in the coming years. We are working with primary care to address these issues.”

“On a positive note, it’s excellent to see the uptake of telehealth and other digital tools. The PHN has invested $1,000,000 over the past 6 months to provide 200 general practices, allied health practices and residential aged care facilities with a $5,000 digital health grant. These grants have gone a long way to improving general digital health capabilities and enablers such as telehealth systems, website upgrades, online booking systems, e-referral/e-prescription and/or cyber security training.”

The fundamental themes identified through the survey include:

  1. Continued negative impact on emotional health and mental health of primary care staff.
  • 85 to 95 per cent of general practices are concerned about the emotional wellbeing of their staff
  • 65 per cent of practices reported serious to severe impact on the workforce

The impact on staff is by far the most significant issue for general practices and allied health providers, the longer the situation continues the more staff are affected and the level of despair and anxiety increases.

2. Impact on management of long term and chronic health conditions

General practices and allied health all reported that the management of long term and chronic health conditions were affected by the impact of COVID. 53 to 92 per cent of General Practices and 52 to 76 per cent of other Primary Care providers reported a moderate to severe impact on the structured management of long term/chronic health conditions.

3. Variable adoption of telehealth (video)

The uptake and use of telehealth and specifically video ranges from 42 to 64 per cent for General Practice and sits at 71 per cent for other primary care providers. The utility and value of video consultations for both clinicians and consumers are now being better understood and can assist in resolving access issues.

In response to these key themes, The PHN recommends the following actions.

Negative impact on emotional health and mental health of staff:

  • The PHN will continue to offer support to practice staff through the member assistance and will step up the promotion of the service through a targeted range of communications.
  • The PHN will work with key stakeholders to identify ways in which to help and assist with the tiredness and exhaustion that primary care providers are feeling.

Impact on management of long term and chronic health conditions:

  • The PHN will work with stakeholders to look at alternate models of care that support and return the care of long term and chronic health conditions to a level that addresses the potential long-term impact on the health care system.
  • The PHN will advocate for appropriate funding mechanisms and instruments to address alternate models of care and to recognise that early intervention can bring about long-term benefits for the consumer and the system.

Variable adoption of telehealth:

  • The PHN will review and identify funding to address the issues related to the adoption of video consultations in both general practice and other primary care settings and work with providers at an individual level to leverage off the digital health maturity assessments currently underway.

Each of the other themes and results will be reviewed by the relevant work streams in The PHN, with the clinical and community councils being engaged in the process of identifying mechanisms to address the issues.

Media enquiries to Rebecca Brennan 0437 478 138.

Explore more news like this:

More about:

Primary Health Workforce

Keep up to date with the latest.

Subscribe to our mailing list to get all the latest news updates delivered to your inbox.

Related News