Ines Rio, GP, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network Chair
“Any barrier that you put in the way of consultation will make it harder. It’s harder to initiate that conversation over the phone, rather than somebody initiating it in the room.”
As a GP working in community health, Dr Ines Rio has observed the ripple effects of the pandemic on many aspects of patient care: “As GPs, we treat a whole person, not just a diagnosis.”
Ines is also a senior medical staff member at the Royal Women’s Hospital, medical adviser for City of Melbourne, and Chair of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.
Through these roles, Ines noted structural issues that resulted in over-representation of COVID-19 infection in Melbourne’s northwestern suburbs alongside psychological effects and barriers that have led to Victorians delaying seeking care to address health concerns, manage cancer care and other chronic diseases and undertake preventative screening.
The Victorian Cancer Registry helps inform practitioners of concerns in cancer care that need to be addressed. “From a GP’s point of view, it’s vital the Victorian Cancer Registry information gets out there. Most GPs know that disturbingly, there have been about 2,500 fewer diagnoses of cancer in Victoria last year. It’s critical we know this, along with the facts that half of those missing diagnosis are in prostate cancer and melanoma – as well as a considerable number in head, neck, and breast. It makes GPs more vigilant, attuned to asking searching questions and increase appropriate screening.”