Victoria has a wide range of health care professionals to meet all your health needs.
From your local GP to specialists and allied services covering both complimentary medicine and conventional treatments, there is a diverse range of expert to help you.
For everyday non-emergency and ongoing health issues, your first place for treatment and advice will usually be your local GP, who is a general practitioner, but is commonly known as a GP.
GPs, as well as other allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, psychologists, podiatrists, and dentists can be accessed directly without referral.
This is called primary, or first, care.
There are also medical specialists.
However, you will need to have a referral from your GP to access these services.
Talk to your GP for more information.
Your GP will have an understanding of you and your medical history.
“I think it's really important for someone to have a good relationship with their GP. As someone they can come to and trust with their health problems.
A GP is a person who's fairly central and you might have any kind of health problem, whether it be physical problem or a mental problem or you might want to just talk about your general health and prevention, you can be really well assured that anything you tell the doctor's not going to go outside of the room. It's completely confidential.
It's really important when a person comes to the doctor to tell the doctor exactly what you're doing, exactly what you're taking. Whether it be prescribed medication or over the counter medication, alternative substances, natural medicines. That's all okay, just tell the doctor and also alcohol and any elicit substances you might be taking. The doctor just wants to know to get the best outcome for you.”
Your GP can also prescribe suitable medications, refer you to specialists for further treatment, recommend allied health professionals, or write medical leave cover notes for your employer if you are unwell.
Having an open and honest relationship with your GP and any other healthcare professionals you see is essential to assist in helping you stay as healthy as possible.
If you are dissatisfied with a healthcare professional, you have the right to get a second medical opinion.
Healthcare professionals play an important role in advising and helping you to prevent illness and maintain good health.
They can help with a whole range of health and wellbeing issues, such as eating well, keeping active, maintaining good mental health.
As an example, let's say you're concerned about a painful knee.
Your GP will assess your condition and may refer you to a radiologist.
You may decide to contact a physiotherapist and make an appointment.
You don't always require a referral from your GP.
There are, of course, benefits to seeing your GP about this issue, too.
Your GP can assess your issue in conjunction with the picture they already have of your overall health.
Once you have seen the radiologist you have been referred to the results will be returned to your GP who will talk with you about the next steps in your health plan.
If it turns out that you need further more specialised help, in this case it could be an orthopaedic surgeon, then a referral must be obtained.
Seeing your GP is either free or subsidised by a government rebate.
If your GP bulk bills, medicare should cover the whole cost.
If they charge a set consultation fee, medicare pays a portion of this.
Costs to see other healthcare professionals or other specialists can vary.
Most charge a fee, but medicare refunds part of that cost.
It's a good idea to check how much you will have to pay before you start your treatment.
There can be times when your GP and other healthcare professionals are unavailable.
In this instance, there are telephone helplines, like nurse on call, available 24 hours a day for general medical advice.
Finding a GP, specialist, or other healthcare professional is something you can play a big part in.
By being involved in your healthcare and talking openly and honestly with your GP, you'll get the best results.
Remember to ask questions, get a second opinion if you need to, listen to health advice, ask for a translator if needed, and act early.
For more information, visit: betterhealth.vic.gov.au/healthprofessionals.