Club doctors will be needed to support health system stretched by coronavirus

That will include rotation of doctors, with many clubs having three doctors connected to their football program.


Dr Barry Rigby is an intensive care specialist who works for the Gold Coast Suns and is president of the AFL Doctors’ Association.

He will be one of the more obviously required club doctors when the epidemic peaks, but with most of the club cohort either GPs or sports physicians (some have specialised training), their skills will be valuable.

“It’s a great mix of medical skills and expertise that work within the AFL community, but at a time like this it’s a bit of potentially all hands on deck,” Rigby said.

Rigby said it remains an individual choice for each doctor as to their availability, with their personal capacity and skills relevant to their decision. He expects medical resources will be stretched in all areas.

The Suns will share the load, although Rigby expects his time to be devoted to community needs at the peak of the crisis.

“We’re entering a time of uncertainty with not just an AFL commitment but a hospital and community commitment,” Rigby said.

“My skills are going to obviously prioritised to the critical care of patients that are going to come through the door.”

With players scattered throughout the country and not able to access their clubs, doctors are treating players remotely while also maintaining a keen eye on staff.

Club doctors expect their players will be able to manage their programs away from the club and they will continue to monitor their health and wellbeing.

There are also genuine concerns about the health effects the speedy upheaval of the industry may have caused for staff who have been stood down or forced to work from home.

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