The North West region now has a new mobile respiratory clinic, a testing facility to meet the challenges of controlling COVID-19.

Federal Member for Parkes and Minister for Regional Health Mark Coulton announced the new mobile clinic in Narrabri yesterday.

Mr Coulton said the mobile respiratory clinic, which will service Narrabri, Boggabri and Gunnedah, is being run by Ochre Health and will travel between Gunnedah, Narrabri and Boggabri to assess patients who have mild to moderate cold or flu symptoms and test them for COVID-19.

The Narrabri clinic will operate from Gately Field on Wednesday afternoons and in Boggabri at the Golf Club on Friday mornings.

“This is exciting news for the North West as we continue to strengthen our local capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Coulton said.

“The Federal Government has committed to establishing up to 100 GP-led respiratory clinics across Australia to assess patients with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms.

“These respiratory clinics are best placed to support people with a fever, cough, sore throat and other respiratory symptoms and will help to avoid the risk of infection in our local communities.

“The Federal Government has been working with local GPs and Aspen Medical – which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas – to roll out the mobile clinic.”

At Wednesday’s Narrabri press conference Mr Coulton said the clinic was “ a good way of keeping track of the infection”.

“At the moment regional Australia, and particularly this part of Australia, has done very, very well in suppressing the very low numbers of infection that we’ve had.

“But with the increase in travel, people getting back to more normal types of work – the potential is there for an increase in infection.

“This is one of the parts of the armoury we have – the respiratory clinic and another one is the mobile app to make sure we can trace people.”

Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network chief executive Richard Nankervis said improving access to health services in rural communities was a priority for the PHN.

“I would like to thank Ochre Health for their efforts to get a mobile clinic operating in our region as it provides access to COVID-19 testing in communities where it is not feasible to set up a permanent testing facility,” Mr Nankervis said.

“We’d also like to remind the community that while COVID-19 remains a major focus for health services, people with ongoing chronic health conditions should be continuing to maintain contact with their own GP to ensure their health is well-monitored.”

Dr John Hall, Ochre Health Director of Medical Services and President of the Rural Doctors Association, said the new mobile clinic has strict infection controls and safety measures in place to protect staff and patients. He said part of this is a ‘no walk-ins’ policy. “It’s really important that people make an appointment and follow our team’s instructions when they arrive,” Dr Hall said.

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