Exclusive: Insiders argue that the early and problematic start undermined patient confidence in online bookings “in a day”

According to industry sources, they were told that the government website that coordinates vaccination dates for Covid will not be released until next week – even though the health minister insisted at the troubled start on Wednesday that “today was always the day”

The Morrison government has been accused of hastening the launch of its national booking system without informing key platforms.Critics say poor planning ravaged GP phone lines and forced doctors to refuse appointments for Australians who were told that they are entitled

On Wednesday, the government launched its national website for booking vaccines that can be used by Australians who are considered eligible for vaccination after completing the Department of Health’s approval tool

The Guardian is aware that the website, hosted as a module on the Government’s HealthDirect website, will compile a list of clinics participating in the rollout from Phase 1b, sort them by proximity to the patient, and offer a link to book a vaccine appointment online

If the clinic has already offered online booking, the national booking website was expected to include a link to their booking portal.Most clinics in Australia rely on a handful of booking software platform providers used in the industry

For clinics that have not yet offered online booking, the government has contracted HealthEngine – one of the largest online appointment booking platforms in the industry – to provide an online booking service for vaccine appointments

However, as of Wednesday morning, a majority of the clinics listed on the national booking website did not offer online booking and instead directed only eligible vaccine recipients to call the clinic

On Wednesday afternoon, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Association beat up the Morrison government for launching the website Warning clinics across Australia had been “inundated” with calls and had to turn down senior Australians trying to book a vaccine for appointments

It is believed that many clinics later contacted the companies that used them for their online bookings to express their concern that they were not ready to go

Federal Minister of Health Greg Hunt insisted on Wednesday that the platform had not been launched early, stating, “Today was always the day“

However, the Guardian can announce that the medical appointment booking industry has been directed to prepare their platforms for inclusion in HealthDirect and to train their clients’ GP clinics on the software by next Monday when Phase 1b begins

The Guardian believes the industry was surprised Those working with the government platform did not find out about the early start until after reading media reports on Wednesday morning

“We were shocked to see it had risen because we had been told to prepare for it to go live on Monday,” an industry source told the Guardian on condition of anonymity, “What.” the hell happened? ”

The source claimed the government left it “far too late” to commission HealthEngine to provide booking solutions for clinics that do not currently offer online bookings – and felt pressured by negative media coverage of the rollout to start the website early

They also claimed that HealthDirect had only been working with major platforms for the past few weeks and that “it would have been a miracle” if the companies had coordinated to get the national vaccine booking website ready by Monday / p>

They claimed vendors were still on track to meet Monday’s deadline, but Wednesday’s early start “undermined patient confidence in booking online in a day”

“What was launched wasn’t a national booking service at all, just mostly just a phone directory of clinics, some of which are not ready for next week,” they said

When the Guardian contacted Hunt about alleging the website launch had been accelerated, its office referred the question to the Health Department, which in turn did not address the claim in its response

A spokesman for the federal health ministry told the Guardian that about 2% of 62000 Australians who accessed the website after being classified as part of Phase 1b by the proficiency testing tool had a bug that prevented some users from accessing the booking platform

The booking website launch followed concerns the Guardian revealed Tuesday that doctors were “poorly equipped” to deliver vaccine and that clinics may have to turn down requests for insufficiently scheduled deliveries in the first few weeks of Phase 1b >

The Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Prof Brendan Murphy, Wednesday downplayed concerns that GPs would not have enough vaccines to accept bookings for the start of the Phase 1b rollout

He stated “we are in no rush in Australia” to vaccinate the 614 million people over 70, Aboriginal and islanders of Torres Strait over 55, healthcare workers not included in Stage 1a and adults with underlying diseases that should get the bite from Monday

Throughout Wednesday, GP clinics were inundated with booking requests from those eligible for vaccination. There were soon widespread reports of patients being turned away

Some were told that GP clinics would not accept new clients for vaccinations that would only be made available to existing patients.Others said their entire city or region was without a single GP attending

In Caloundra, Queensland, Tony Magrathea, who lives in Tony Magrathea, couldn’t find a GP clinic for his 85-year-old mother eligible for Phase 1b

He tried three participating general practitioners in suburbs outside of Caloundra: Golden Beach, Little Mountain, and Currimundi Each clinic told him they were not admitting new patients

“It’s a mess,” Magrathea told the guard. He said at least his mother had him as a caretaker to help her

“She said,” Well what should I do? “and I said,” I’ll try to take you to the hospital and get you the injection there, “he said,” Your brother and sister-in-law in England both got Covid and were very sick from it. You survived it “

One report suggested that Mount Gambier – South Australia’s second largest city – had no general practitioners attending

Another patient from Victoria, Daniel, also reported problems with GP clinics refusing to admit new patients for vaccination

“They said,” We just don’t accept anyone from the public, the vaccine is only for our current customers, “he said

“I have just spoken to the Covid hotline, the 1800 number of the federal government, and they just said:” Well, there is not much we can do about that “”

After RACGP and AMA accused the government of creating “unrealistic expectations” that Australians would be vaccinated by their local GP next week, the Australian General Practice Alliance said many clinics were only being offered 50 doses of the vaccine per week

“If we only get 50 a week it will take a long time to vaccinate all of Australia,” she told the Guardian. “We know our patients’ medical histories and we do most of the vaccines safely in Australia. We need the care so we can get them done ”

She urged the public to be patient, saying there was little that clinics could do until the vaccines arrived and more supplies were available

Covid Vaccine Eligibility, Vaccine Australia

World News – AU – ‘What the hell?’: According to industry sources, the Australian government has accelerated the adoption of the Covid vaccine booking system

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/mar/18/what-the-hell-industry-sources-say-government-rushed-launch-of-covid-vaccine-booking-system