Australia's GP workforce would have to be redistributed to cope with a major influenza pandemic, general practice experts said in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
As part of a special influenza pandemic supplement, Sydney GP Dr Nick Collins and colleagues outlined key strategies that GPs need to consider in planning for a pandemic.
'Some areas of Australia are well supplied with GPs, but workforce shortages are recognised in some rural and outer metropolitan regions,' Dr Collins said.
'A redistribution of clinical support to bolster local numbers will be required, and is likely to be one of the contentious issues of pandemic planning.'
Some of the measures Dr Collins and colleagues suggest GPs consider now include training staff, preparing to collect data to assist in future disease outbreak planning, and implementing infection control measures such as replacing waiting room magazines and toys with masks and gowns.
'Training, protection, remuneration and indemnity are important areas of concern for all groups,' Dr Collins said.
'GPs are old hands at dealing with uncertainty in clinical practice. However, when this uncertainty is coupled with anxiety, lack of clear information and limited awareness about strategies to manage the range of possible scenarios, the outcome is more likely to be chaotic.
'The more certain we become of our abilities to act in a pandemic situation and the closer to agreement we are on how the best outcomes can be achieved, the more likely we are to engage in rational decision making and play a clear and key role in maintaining and protecting the health of the Australian public.'