A man in his car getting a COVID-19 test.

Queensland COVID-19 surge sparks calls for improved PCR access amid RAT accuracy fears

Mass testing clinics should be reopened and GP referrals for PCR tests should be removed as Queensland faces its third wave of COVID-19, health experts say.

The calls from the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMA), infectious disease expert Paul Griffin and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Queensland (RACGP) followed 8,209 COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths being recorded over the past 24 hours.

There are now 64,011 active COVID-19 cases in the state, 1,023 of which are in hospital and 26 of which are intensive care.

The arise amid questions about the accuracy of rapid antigen tests and concerns PCR testing is not accessible enough for vulnerable people.

In Queensland, people must get a referral from their GP to get a free PCR test at a participating private pathology laboratory.

The appointment to get a PCR referral could be bulk-billed or carry a fee, depending on the particular general practice, and pathology labs can also charge fees for patients without a referral.

Maria Boulton says she would support any government measure to increase access to PCR testing.(Supplied: AMA Queensland)

AMA Queensland president Maria Boulton said there was no additional funding for appointments for a COVID-19 referral from a GP.

She said general practice clinics were “fielding hundreds of phone calls a day from people with COVID” and there was “no mechanism for patients to get a rebate for that” unless the clinic bulk-billed.

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