Doctors' workload increasing despite initiatives to relieve pressure

Doctors' workload increasing despite initiatives to relieve pressure
Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash

The pressure of the worsening epidemiological situation is increasing on doctors despite the government implementing initiatives to relieve their workloads.

At the start of this month, a website was launched where people showing Covid-19 symptoms can find out if they need to be tested or not, and receive a test code to make an appointment at a test centre, a laboratory or a pharmacy if necessary, as doctors were becoming overwhelmed with requests for Covid-19 tests.

So far, however, it has not made any difference to the influx of questions doctors receive about coronavirus tests and high-risk contacts.

"At the moment, we do not notice any difference. The pressure on the GP outposts and GP practices is actually only increasing," doctor Roel Van Giel of the general practitioner’s association Domus Medica, told Belga news agency.

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Although the influx is in part due to the fact that the number of coronavirus infections is increasing at a rapid pace, Van Giel stressed that the digital literacy of the population should not be overestimated, adding that some patients first try to request a test with the online tool, but then turn to their GP when this fails.

Additionally, the online-based testing system does not yet allow for a sick note to be created for people to give to their employer, meaning they still have to visit their GP to get this, whether doing the test online or not.

Earlier this week, Domus Medica argued that contact tracing must be improved and that the info line for coronavirus measures must once again be expanded to deal with the large number of requests about testing and high-risk contacts.

Meanwhile, Van Giel added that, despite the calls from Corona Commissioner Pedro Facon to not immediately call doctors following a high-risk contact, this is still a regular occurence in practice.

"It is not that simple. If a patient calls who you have been counselling for 20 years, you help them," he said, concluding that reducing the number of contacts, and as a result, the number of infections is the only solution now.

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