A Bendigo GP has urged the Federal Government to extend its bulk-billed telehealth consults, which are set to expire on September 30.
Creek Street Medical Practice's Dr Brenda Greenall said the loss of telehealth consults would cause significant stress to people, particularly those with chronic health issues.
"While the pandemic is ongoing, a lot of people have significant concerns about coming to a clinic for a face-to-face consult," Dr Greenall said.
More than half of the practice's appointments include a telehealth component, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
"Telehealth means we can triage more effectively and keep everyone safer," Dr Greenwood said.
A spokesperson for Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the government has made telehealth a key pillar of its response in the fight against COVID-19, delivering 10 years of reform in 10 weeks.
In Parliament on May 13, Mr Hunt said he "hopes and intends for telehealth to be an abiding legacy of the crisis."
"Access to timely and effective health services is an ongoing focus for the government," the spokesperson said.
"Options for extension past September 30 are being considered in the context of health requirements, Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice and stakeholder feedback."
Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said telehealth is vital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm shocked the government are leaving it until the eleventh hour to extend the current provisions, or end them completely," Ms Chesters said.
"Losing telehealth would be disastrous for our entire regional community.
"This uncertainty puts a lot of pressure on GPs, who have already scheduled appointments with patients and may need to reschedule or cancel appointments because they don't know what the future holds."