Patient safety and continuity of care is extremely important, particularly for those people who have chronic and complex diseases or conditions, vulnerable populations, the elderly and immunocompromised. This includes people impacted by hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

There have been mounting concerns that Australians are not maintaining their regular doctor visits for existing chronic conditions and/or putting off seeing their doctor to get a test, investigation, or immunisation due to fears of contracting COVID-19 or burdening the health system.

In March 2020, healthcare participation fell sharply as the public followed isolation and social distancing advice which was the right thing to do. However, as a result, there was a 40% drop in pathology testing – equivalent to over 60,000 Australians per day not getting tests vital to manage their healthcare.

This became a ‘surrogate indicator’ of potential widespread implications of not engaging in regular health checks and how this could put Australians’ long-term health at risk.

Hepatitis Australia understands this drop in pathology testing includes tests related to the diagnosis and management of blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In July we heard that testing levels for hepatitis had not returned to the usual levels, prompting increased concern. 

Not seeking help when it is really required may place your health, and even your life, at risk.

With these concerns in mind, Hepatitis Australia has joined the Continuity of Care Collaboration (CCC), a unique and first of its kind communication collaboration of Peak Bodies, Industry and Healthcare Organisations coming together to stress the importance for people to continue with monitoring their health status and conditions to ensure optimal long-term health outcomes are achieved.

Hepatitis Australia, along with other collaborators is advocating for people to continue with their health management during the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for the future.

We are urging people to keep a close watch on their ongoing healthcare and health maintenance, and to not allow the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to prevent crucial healthcare activity.

Over the next few weeks Hepatitis Australia will be promoting the #DontWaitMate campaign to encourage people living with, or at risk of hepatitis B or C to not delay accessing the healthcare they need.  Whether that is having a test for hep B or hep C, getting vaccinated for hep B, having a liver health check or accessing treatment, these are all continue to be important.

Remember, we all have a responsibility to keep people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Visit the Continuity of Care website to learn more about the Collaboration

Find out more about hepatitis B and hepatitis C care from the navigation links above.