Queenslanders are being urged to get their flu shots as 38 people have died and 18,000 have been hit by the flu.
Queenslanders are being urged to get their flu shots as 38 people have died and 18,000 have been hit by the flu.

Urgent recruitment drive as flu grips state

At least 38 Queenslanders are dead, and more than 18,000 have been hit by flu. With the worst yet to come, a desperate recruitment drive is under way for extra doctors to meet a huge increase in demand.

At least 38 Queenslanders have been killed and 18,502 slugged by the flu and experts say the worst is yet to come.

This has prompted the after-hours GP service, House Call Doctors, to look for doctors to fly in to Queensland and local GPs to step up to help serve the increasing demand for after-hours care of flu-stricken patients.

Dr Dilip Dhupelia
Dr Dilip Dhupelia

House Call Doctor general manager James Wood said the number of flu cases had spiked earlier this year and the season could potentially match the worst season of 2017, but the company wanted to be "as prepared as possible".

"It has put pressure on our service, we're just trying to make sure we've got enough doctors so we can meet the demand over the next two months … which could increase," he said.

He said there had been a staggering 40 per cent increase in House Call Doctor patients since last month in Bundaberg and increased patient numbers around the state.

It follows Health Minister Steven Miles announcement last week that $3.5 million to fund 5000 extra beds to cope with the horror flu season "putting increasing pressure on our hospitals".

AMA Queensland president Dr Dilip Dhupelia said the warnings about the "extraordinary flu season and the effects this is having on medical services and hospital beds" should be taken seriously.

"For those not vaccinated yet, I urge you to see your GPs and get your flu shots, as it is not too late in the season at all," he said.

RACGP Queensland chair Bruce Willett said demand for GPs usually increased in winter but this year practices would be "scrambling" to cope with the season's early hit.

"For most, the flu is a major inconvenience, for others it can be lethal, this is a timely reminder to get vaccinated," Dr Willett said.