Growing Concern For Patients As Lockdown Continues: NZ Chiropractors Association
The New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association is urging the public to maintain strict compliance with the Level 3 restrictions so that chiropractors can return to practice as soon as possible. Thousands of patients are crying out for care, and chiropractors are feeling the strain of having to continually turn people away. An extension of Level 3 would be devastating for the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders, says the NZCA.
Any extension of the restrictions to the delivery of hands-on healthcare will leave thousands of New Zealanders with decreased health, increased dysfunction and worsening mental, physical and emotional stress, notes the NZCA. Chiropractors and other allied health professions in Australia have continued to practice without compromising community safety, and the profession is feeling increasingly frustrated in New Zealand.
NZCA President and chiropractor Dr Hayden Thomas says: `The health and wellness of New Zealanders is our primary concern and the denial of access to healthcare must be addressed urgently. Our colleagues in Australia have been permitted to continue in practice with appropriate procedural controls, and with advanced contact tracing monitoring there have been no reports of community spread from this. We are asking for everyone to adhere to the Level 3 regulations so that we can get back to assisting our patients and our members can return to usual practice as soon as possible’.
Auckland chiropractor Dr Simon Kelly points out that: `More than 56,000 kiwis a week would normally seek an appointment with a chiropractor. Every day that we stay in lockdown, the backlog of patients grows and the knock-on effect to New Zealand business worsens as they are unable to work. People are suffering and we know that their state of health is declining. Not only that, many of them are being forced to use medications and cope with the associated side effects they can have. Telehealth is not a solution for many of our patients as chiropractic is a hands-on healthcare discipline. We are highly-trained, responsible healthcare practitioners and should be able to exercise our clinical judgement as to when it is appropriate to see a patient during the pandemic.’
Dr Thomas says: `Our members are reporting hundreds of requests for care, such as builders who can’t go to work, dairy farmers incapacitated and unable to milk their herds and SME owners who cannot run their businesses because they cannot get the care they need. Also affected are nurses, police, paramedics, fire and emergency staff and others who understandably need to be functional to deliver their essential services. These people and many others rely on the care that chiropractors provide. This need is growing every day and chiropractors are getting increasing pressure from their communities for care. If we are able to keep essential care providers at work and provide care to other patients, it will assist in keeping other parts of the health service free for other urgent work and COVID-19 assessment and treatment.’
While chiropractors are able to communicate via Telehealth with patients to offer advice, self-care and exercises from isolation, all face-to-face consultations are severely restricted under level 3. Many chiropractors are offering Telehealth appointments free of charge as an added service to their patients.
Chiropractors are primary health care professionals registered under the HPCA Act with close to 700 Annual Practicing Certificate holders working in solo, group, and multidisciplinary practices around New Zealand. New Zealand chiropractors have significant training (a minimum 5-year tertiary degree) and a broad yet highly skilled scope of practice and clinical expertise in neuro-musculo-skeletal health including manual spinal and extremity care, radiography and radiology, orthopaedics, neurology, rheumatology, physiology and pathology.
NZCA chiropractors are taking the lead to inform and inspire people to improve health, promote wellness, and prevent dysfunction by educating the public to have a greater understanding of the relationship between their spine and nervous system by improving their posture, addressing and preventing spinal problems, and engaging in physical activity.