Croatian GPs Begin Rapid Antigen Testing, Many Questions Remain

By 17 January 2022

January the 17th, 2022 - Croatian GPs are beginning to test with rapid antigen tests as of today. Some are more than ready for the move, some are already carrying out this type of coronavirus testing, and some are far from prepared.

As Index vijesti writes, throughout Osijek-Baranja County in particular, everything needed for this is being organised at 70 different locations, as was reported by HRT.

"On January the 13th, we received an instruction from the Ministry of Health about rapid testing intended for all Croatian GPs, it also included information about the protection of preschool children. It stated that all Croatian GPs should be included in the testing. It is recommended that this be at the beginning or end of their working hours in order in order to try to avoid risky contacts,'' said Dr. Justinija Steiner, the director of the Osijek-Baranja County Health Centre.

"We'll do it all as we carried out all of the tasks related to coronavirus, including vaccination and treatment of covid and chronic disease. We managed all that, we're tired and not happy with this new load of work, but we'll do it all," said prof. dr. sc. Hrvoje Tiljak.

Rapid antigen testing will be done by the employees of the Krapina-Zagorje County Health Centre, given that 5,000 rapid antigen tests have arrived at the clinics there.

"I think this will further burden Croatian GPs who are still overwhelmed with their current work and all of the administration," said Nada Dogan, MD. spec. obit. med., director of the Krapina-Zagorje County Health Centre. The organisation of this new way of doing things, as they say, is the biggest challenge of all, and there have already been a few unwanted and sometimes awkward situations.

"Patients have already been coming here, and they have walked in and been waiting in the waiting room among non-covid patients,'' complained Dr. Dubravko Leskovar.

Some Croatian GPs are still indignant about the entire thing and expect clear instructions on the matter.

"I don't know what will happen from Monday on, I haven't received any rapid antigen tests since Friday, I don't have the space or the time to start doing this. There's also absolutely no expert explanation or instruction from the epidemiologists," said Natasa Ban Toskic, president of the Croatian Family Coordination medicine (KoHOM).

Bernard Kaic agrees that this is a major project.

"Health centres need to (the ministry must somehow help doctors in organising this) set aside a certain time for people with coronavirus symptoms to come who need to be tested and separate them from those people without any symptoms who also need a test, and separate both of these groups from all those who don't need a test at all. This is a big organisational project and Croatian GPs simply cannot do it alone,'' believes Bernard Kaic, head of the Epidemiology Service of the CNIPH.

Health Minister Vili Beros: So far, 995 out of 5,000 primary care practices have been carrying out rapid antigen testing.

Minister of Health Vili Beros said on Thursday that so far, 995 primary health care surgeries out of a total of 5,000 surgeries have been performing rapid antigen testing, and he called on them to respond to the needs of their patients due to the current emergency situation.

Rapid antigen testing has so far been performed by 370 GP practices, 558 dental clinics and 17 pediatric clinics. 125,000 tests have been done, Beros told reporters after the recent government session.

Responding to the protests and complaints of Croatian GPs up and down the country, Beros said that his task as a minister was to respond organisationally to the demands of the profession to expand this form of testing. "In the context of the pandemic and these new challenges, we simply thought it would be appropriate for patients to come to their own doctors for help," he says.

Hospitals are burdened with treating covid and non-covid patients and are still testing, so we can't ask them to increase their capacities in this segment. What we can do is enable all Croatian GPs to take care of the patients registered with them. I know that they're also overburdened, but we aren't living in normal times, a global pandemic has been declared and taking care of those suffering as a result of that is our primary task," Beros pointed out.

He believes that Croatian GPs could organise rapid antigen testing during the last hour of their working hours, rejecting claims that he was "at war with Croatian GPs"

"I'm at war with the virus, and they're my comrades-in-arms,'' Beros concluded.

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