ACNP Presidents Update
The ACNP is in contact with members on a regular basis to assist them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The communication includes updates, resources and tips to assist them during this difficult time. Below you will find a general overview of the updates that members will have received from ACNP President, Leanne Boase. If you would like to know more please contact the office on 1300 433 660.
Extending until 31 March 2021, temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers.
The temporary MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, participating midwives, allied health providers and dental practitioners in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery.
It is a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an established clinical relationship with the patient. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.
GP and OMP COVID-19 telehealth services are eligible for MBS incentive payments when provided as bulk billed services to Commonwealth concession card holders and children under 16 years of age.
The temporary GP and OMP bulk billing incentive items for patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and the temporary doubling of all Medicare bulk-billing incentive fees ceased as of 1 October 2020.
A service may only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.
For all the fact sheets please click here.
Principal Medical Advisor & Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health
Survey: Living with COVID restrictions
Monash University is conducting a second nationwide online survey about life and COVID-19. The anonymous survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and your answers will help inform government policy responses.
Survey: COVID-19 & Gender Equality
Women & Leadership Australia are conducting a Covid-19 surveyin to Gener Equality. You can participate in the research which involves a ten minute survey.
Update from the Primary Health Care Covid-19 Response Teleconference (Meeting 17) - IMPORTANT links to assist you.
Message from the Commonwealth Department of Health Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service
As part of the Australian Government's $74 million COVID-19 mental health package, $10 million has been provided to Beyond Blue to create a dedicated coronavirus wellbeing support line. Beyond Blue is also being supported by a $5 million donation from Medibank, an ongoing Beyond Blue partner, to establish this service.
The free 24/7 Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service – coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au or via phone on 1800 512 348 – has been developed by Beyond Blue to address the growing mental health impact of the pandemic, including fear about the virus, financial stress, business closure, family stress, anxiety and loneliness.
The service offers easy access to a broad range of practical supports from online wellbeing tips, self-help tools to phone counselling from trained mental health professionals and peer to peer support.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14) and Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
The Flyer is to use to promote the availability of support to those affected by the lockdowns and by COVID-19 and are for distribution use as needed.
Please direct any enquiries to the Department of Health Mental Health Emergency Response section
12 May 2020
Two new publications relating to Covid-19 and immunisations have been released:
- ATAGI Guiding Principles for maintaining immunisation services during COVID-19 pandemic
- ATAGI Clinical Statement on Vaccination Observation Time
12 May 2020
NBN upgrade for telehealth providers includes Nurse Practitioners. An update has been received from the Darling Downs and West Morton PHN sharing the news that many telehealth users have access to improved connections. You can read all of the details on the PHN home page. Here you will also find contact details for the offer.
08 May 2020
A new community recognition oportunity has come to our attention. Vodafone has offeres for their Ahpra registered customers. To read about the offer go to https://www.vodafone.com.au/plans/healthcare-workers
03 May 2020
The new app has been released to assit in tracing possible contact with COVID-19. You can access the ap at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covidsafe-app.30 April 2020
All members have been sent an email from Leanne Boase regarding increased COVID-19 testing, COVIDSafe App, looking after your regular health needs, mental health, flu vaccines, telehealth resources and how to keep up to date with all the changes relating to COVID-19.
29 April 2020
All members have been sent an email from Leanne Boase regarding their input into the impact of COVID-19 on Aged Care Services.
23 April 2020
Attendance at Primary Care and Allied Health COVID-19 Response Webinar
ASHM want to hear from you: Telehealth during COVID-19 - Complete their quick survey here.
22 April 2020
Attendance at Primary Health Care COVID-19 Response Teleconference #5
21 April 2020
APNA are collecting responses from Primary Care Nurses about the impact of Covid-19. You can take the survey here. The survey has space for you to type extra details which maybe needed if you are self employed.
20 April 2020
All members have been sent an email from Leanne Boase about the most recent changes to Telehealth and Bulk Billing for Nurse Practitioners. Call the office on 1300 433 660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you did not receive it. You can view the email by logging in to your chapter page at Chapters.
16 APRIL 2020
As per our recent update, we submitted in response to the Stage 5 Telehealth Consultation in relation to our Telehealth rebates, aged care and mental health items. Unfortunately, all of our requests were rejected. Unsurprisingly, the explanation was that it was outside of the scope of this particular consultation.
Reflecting on the current situation, it is apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted and supported the need for change as detailed within the recommendations of the Nurse Practitioner Reference Group as part of the MBS review. These 14 recommendations, well supported by evidence, and also the report of the KPMG, would have assisted greatly in our ability to respond to COVID-19, and further, as highlighted during the hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and the Royal Commissions into Mental Health, they are desperately needed by our community.
ACNP efforts to date have been focussed on realistic and achievable changes during COVID-19, without placing unnecessary burden on the Government during this time. However, the ACNP cannot understand why the community still struggles with access to health care, when there is evidence based and affordable recommendations already in place which would mitigate this, said Leanne Boase, ACNP President. I call on the government to implement the 14 recommendations immediately.
14 April 2020
Over the weekend we have seen a slight reduction in daily numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in Australia. While this is good news, we need to remain cautious and continue with social distancing and hygiene measures, particularly hand hygiene. We also may be seeing lower numbers as a result of reduced testing or reporting over the Easter ‘break’. It is entirely possible that if we relax our current measures, we could still experience increases in COVID-19 cases.
Please be assured, we are very actively representing Nurse Practitioners and the community in relation to COVID-19, and also still working on our regular submissions, as well our everyday operations and the MBS review.
An overview of the other topics discussed in the update include:
Health Care Workers (HCW) diagnosed with COVID-19: It is important to understand not all cases of COVID-19 in HCWs have been acquired in the clinical setting, or in their workplaces. It is very important that we stay safe at both work and home, and support others to stay safe by adhering to the social distancing guidelines, educating family and friends, and modelling safe behaviour within our communities.
Check the latest data on COVID-19 in Australia each day, and also check for updates to the resources for health professionals, including PPE and testing guidelines, as these may change as we learn more about COVID-19. We also highly recommend the Webinars, the Training, and Prescribers Fact Sheet, all available on the government website. On the ACNP COVID-19 webpage you can click on the Status and Resources buttons for direct links to each.
Attendance at meetings to represent Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Nurses including NMSRG meeting.
ACNP official correspondence:
Letters to Minister Greg Hunt, Senator Richard Colbeck, and Prof. Michael Kidd in relation to numerous issues, including PPE access, Nurse Practitioners in private practice, Telehealth item numbers, the ongoing MBS review, and Aged Care, including Flu Vaccines.
Submitted a response to the Stage 5 Telehealth consultations for Specialists, which referenced the report of the NPRG as evidence to support additional improvements to Telehealth to assist NPs to provide a better response to COVID-19.
06 April 2020
Margaret Faux, from Synapse Medical has applied her brilliant legal mind to the issue of Nurse Practitioner referrals being refused, in relation to Pathology, specifically COVID-19 testing.
It is well known that we have also experienced refusals of referrals for Radiology too, and the same principles can be applied, to all of the item numbers on the NP ‘list’.
Sincere thanks to Margaret for providing clarity and timely information during this busy time.
4 April 2020
UpToDate have provided ACNP Members with even greater access during COVID-19. ACNP Members were provided with a Coronavirus link to the Wolters Kluwer Health Portfolio that is open & free. The website includes patient education, a video on understanding COVID-19, insightful articles and information for care teams.
3 April 2020
One key issue under discussion is the current situation in relation to Telehealth and the MBS. With the MBS Review still underway, there is still some uncertainty, but I want to reassure all of you that we are still actively engaged in this process, while also working on the current COVID-19 Telehealth MBS items.
We have called on the Federal Government to lift the restrictions affecting NP’s in primary care gaining access to PPE via the PHNs. We will continue to advocate strongly for this access.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you have been refused PPE in primary care.
ACNP has submitted our strategies to the ‘Phase 5 Feedback on MBS specialist services for possible expansion to phone and/or telehealth’.
26 MARCH 2020
ACNP has been very active in trying to assist with the broader COVID-19 pandemic, with our inclusion in Telehealth, and more broadly across the response. We are working constantly on addressing any barriers to providing health care over the next six months, and we have some key goals we are very committed.
You may have seen our COVID-19 Media Release. Yesterday ACNP wrote to every State Health Minister and CNMO, as well as the Federal Minister for Health with key recommendations to remove barriers to practice with the specific aim of responding to COVID-19.
We are established as a stakeholder within Primary Care and across other sectors, we are receiving numerous invitations, and the ACNP is attending every meeting and roundtable and contributing wherever possible.
23 MARCH 2020
The ACNP has developed resources to assist Nurse Practitioners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:
- ACNP COVID-19 webpage
- Telehealth discount options for ACNP members via Coviu
- UpToDate Coronavirus Research based information