ACNP Presidents COVID-19 Updates

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.

21 OCtober 2021

The Australian Government published its latest Provider Bulletin on Friday 1 October 2021, with information and updates on eligibility, priority cohorts, boosters, expiring doses and more.


14 October

Expiring Vaccines

The Primary Health Care Network in your area can help coordinate the re-distribution of excess and expiring COVID-19 vaccines.  If you suspect your vaccines may be at risk of expiring, please contact your PHCO as soon as possible - this may allow other practices to consider holding off on future orders and instead utilise available stock. You are also welcome to contact other practices nearby to discuss transfer opportunities prior to contacting your PHCO.  

If you are arranging your own re-distribution of excess doses, the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’ document provides information and advice for vaccine storage management for Australian immunisation service providers.

Tips to avoid excess doses:

  • Consider contacting nearby practices (if applicable) to identify any possible local solution.
  • If you experience a situation where you have multiple doses which are at risk of expiring, review the practices current ordering system and the short term future bookings/ demands and adjust.  
  • Consider holding off future ordering until sufficient bookings are made to cover the minimum stock booking requirement.

Consider sharing your ordering cycle/s with other practices to help manage stock.

From: communications@ourphn.org.au


22 September

There have been many questions sent to the College in regard to the Request for Tender - Vaccine Administration Partners Program (COVID Vaccines). ACNP was not able to respond to the sheer volume of individual inquires, and as each application will look different, depending on your circumstances and business.  Therefore, we provided the opportunity for members to connect via zoom to share ideas and network. From these sessions, the members who attended, developed the following FAQs to share with the membership.

Please note: This information is to be taken generally and not as direct advice from the ACNP.  Thank you to those members who contributed, we are very grateful to you for helping us put together this information.

RFT Session Information - Developed by ACNP Members


2 September 2021

Read the NMBA---Fact-sheet---The-role-of-nurse-practitioners-in-response-to-COVID-19.


5 August 2021

Wargames and the National COVID Vaccine Campaign Plan:

You may also recall that on 19th July I was invited to War-games representing the ACNP.  The National COVID Vaccine Campaign Plan was released on 3rd August, and I draw your attention to the following pages and sections in particular. 

  • The National Co-operative approach highlighted in the Summary  

  • The Critical capabilities table that highlights the use of a qualified workforce

  • Annex B - Tables 1 and 2 providing an overview of the Workforce ability to deliver COVID vaccines. You can see clearly that Nurse Practitioners have the full ability to deliver COVID vaccines across Australia.

You can read the full document here: Op COVID Shield National Campaign Plan

I was very pleased that ACNP, along with many of our Nursing colleagues were engaged in this, and had the opportunity to contribute in a significant way.  While we were engaged late in planning of the rollout, we were invited very early into the COVID Shield response.  We look forward to engaging further in the activation of this plan, and the full activation of Nurse Practitioners.


2 June 2021 

Letters sent about the Federal Government’s exclusion of Nurse Practitioners from the rollout of COVID 19 vaccines


20 May 2021

Two new Vaccination materials to assist you from the Federal Health Department


7 May 2021

Update for Victoira - Pharmacist Immuniser

The Secretary Approval: Pharmacist Immuniser – SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) VACCINE has now been gazetted and is in force,

A direct link to this gazette (Gazette S 208 7 May 2021) can be found here: GG2021S208.pdf (gazette.vic.gov.au)

If you have any queries or comments, please forward them to the Vaccination Program team at: COVIDvaccination@dhhs.vic.gov.au


30 April 2021

Telehealth - has been extended in its current form as it relates to patients of Nurse Practitioners until 31st December 2021.  Please find the Minister’s media release here 


13 April 2021

Please see below a list of updated information resources that are now published on the Department of Health website.

Published 10 April 2021

Published 9 April 2021

The easy print versions and translated versions have been unpublished but will be available again as soon as they have been updated.

NCIRS are continuing to update further resources over the weekend and next week. We will provide further updates and these links as soon as they are available. 

The Department of Health encourages you to share these new and updated resources with your networks.

Kind regards, Vaccine Communications Team


09 April 2021

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) in light of the evolving evidence of a rare but serious side effect involving thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine provides the attached update and script for general practices.


08 April 2021

The attached document provides updated advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine with links to information that was updated over the Easter weekend.

If require additional talking points or information please contact covidvaccinecomms@health.gov.au

Document: Phase 1B GP peak comms 80421

COVID-19 Vaccine Communications


19 March 2021

The Department published a new FAQ document that contains some crucial info.

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccine-general-questions-for-vaccine-providers

Trent Dawson, Executive Officer to Professor Michael Kidd 


18 March 2021

The ACNP is awaiting notification from the Federal Government regarding their decision to cease or extend the Telehealth MBS item numbers for Nurse Practitioners.  The Government is working their way through the various practitioners and have already made decisions for General Practitioners.  The ACNP will email all members once we know of the decision.  Please ensure your contact details are correct by going to https://www.acnp.org.au/index.cfm?display=754150 then VIEW MY MEMBERSHIP at the bottom of the page.

Read the Ahpra statement about Covid vaccinations:   Ahpra---Position-statement---COVID-19-vaccination-position-statement


18 March 2021

Continued Dispensing is the supply of an eligible medicine to a person by an approved pharmacist, where there is an immediate need for the medicine but where it is not practicable to obtain a valid PBS prescription.  Under normal Continued Dispensing arrangements, only eligible oral contraceptives and lipid lowering medicines (statins) can be supplied under Continued Dispensing.  Only one supply of medicines can be provided in a 12 month period.  In response to the bushfire crisis and then the COVID pandemic, the Australian Government temporarily expanded these arrangements until 30 March 2021 through Continued Dispensing (Emergency Measures) which includes most PBS/RPBS medicines supplied through community pharmacies.  The Government has agreed to further extend the Continued Dispensing emergency arrangements until 31 December 2021 while COVID-19 continues to put pressure on our health resources.  This will continue to provide an additional option to support continuity of therapy for consumers who are unable to access their medical practitioner to obtain a valid prescription.  These arrangements complement existing emergency supply provisions including “owing prescription” arrangements and the additional measures introduced by the Australian Government to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 (such as e-Prescribing, new MBS telehealth items).  These alternative provisions to obtain a PBS prescription should be considered before utilising Continued Dispensing arrangements.

Frequently Asked Questions

For Patients

What is Continued Dispensing?

Continued Dispensing is the supply of an eligible medicine to a person by an approved pharmacist, where there is an immediate need for the medicine but where it is not practicable to obtain a valid PBS prescription.  The supply of medicines under these arrangements is subject to a strict set of professional guidelines.  Only one supply of medicines can be provided under Continued Dispensing in a 12 month period.

What should I do if I have run out of my medicines and/or prescriptions and cannot see a doctor to obtain a new one?

  • If you are unable to see a medical practitioner face-to-face to obtain a prescription, you should check whether they can provide a telehealth appointment by either phone or video, and then send the script to you or your pharmacy. If they cannot, you should talk to a community pharmacist about other options. This does not have to be your usual pharmacist, but they may need to contact your usual pharmacist.

Do I have to see my doctor to get a follow-up prescription to give to the pharmacist under Continued Dispensing?

  • You do not need to obtain a follow-up prescription for medicines that are supplied under the Continued Dispensing arrangements.

What medicines can I get?

Why have the medicines available under continued dispensing been changed?

  • Continued Dispensing originally applied to PBS-listed oral contraceptives and cholesterol-lowering medicines (statins). However, in response to the bushfire crisis, the Government temporarily expanded these arrangements to include most PBS medicines through Continued Dispensing (Emergency Measures). These emergency arrangements have been extended until 31 December 2021 to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What will I have to pay for these medicines?

  • You will have to pay the relevant PBS/RPBS co-payment, depending on your concessional status. The PBS co-payment levels as at 1 January 2021 are $6.60 for concessional persons and up to $41.30 for general persons. If you have reached your PBS/RPBS safety net, your PBS/RPBS prescription cost will be reduced to the applicable PBS/RPBS co-payment rate.

Will these medicines count towards my PBS/RPBS Safety Net?

  • In most cases, these medicines will count towards your PBS/RPBS Safety Net.  However, for certain PBS medicines, there is a Safety Net 20 day rule.  This means that for these medicines a resupply within 20 days of having the previous medicine supplied will not count towards your Safety Net.  If you had already reached the Safety Net threshold, you will need to pay the relevant pre-Safety Net PBS co-payment, not the reduced Safety Net amount. Your pharmacist will be able to discuss this further with you if this is relevant.

I previously had my blood pressure medicine dispensed under Continued Dispensing because I couldn’t obtain a prescription from my doctor during the initial COVID response. I do not want to wait in a doctor’s surgery, just to get a script for this medicine I regularly take. Can I still have my blood pressure medicine dispensed under Continued Dispensing?

  • No. A pharmacist can only dispense a medicine under Continued Dispensing if a person has not had the medicine dispensed under Continued Dispensing in the last 12 months. There may be other options available to you which you should discuss with your medical practitioner or pharmacist.

The Government has introduced a range of new measures to enable people to get their medicine during COVID-19 restrictions, including digital copy prescriptions and home delivery services.  More information on these and other measures is available on the Health website

What do I do if I have lost my Medicare or Concession Card?

  • The pharmacist can contact Services Australia for assistance on getting this information. Alternatively, members of the general public can contact Services Australia on 132 011.

Will I be able to get my next supply of PBS medicines without a prescription?

  • A Continued Dispensing medicine can only be supplied once in a 12 month period. You will need to ensure that you speak to a doctor to get a prescription for any future supplies of these medicines. There may be other options available to you which you should discuss with your medical practitioner or pharmacist.

For Pharmacists

Please note that Continued Dispensing arrangements are intended to complement, not replace existing emergency supply provisions including “owing prescription” arrangements and the additional measures introduced by the Australian Government to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 (such as e-Prescribing, new MBS telehealth items).  These alternative provisions should be considered before utilising Continued Dispensing arrangements.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has guidance on the supply of medicines under the Continued Dispensing arrangements. You should read the Guidelines for the continued dispensing of eligible prescribed medicines by pharmacists before supplying medicines under these arrangements. The Guidelines are available from the PSA website.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has fact sheets on the emergency supply of medicines, and Services Australia provides an Education guide on the Continued Dispensing Initiative.

Why have the medicines available under Continued Dispensing arrangements been changed?

  • Continued Dispensing originally applied to PBS-listed oral contraceptives and cholesterol-lowering medicines (statins). However, in response to the bushfire crisis, the Government temporarily expanded these arrangements to include most PBS medicines through Continued Dispensing (Emergency Measures). These emergency arrangements have been extended until 31 December 2021 to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What do I need to do before I can dispense a medicine under these arrangements?

  • Before considering supply of medicines under Continued Dispensing arrangements, you should make sure that:
    • the person has an immediate need for the medicine before a script can be obtained;

    • circumstances prevented the person from accessing a prescriber (face-to-face or via telehealth) to obtain a new prescription;

    • it is not possible to obtain an “image based script” or approval for an “owing prescription” from a prescriber;

    • the medicine is eligible for supply under the arrangements (including under relevant state/territory legislation);

    • the person has been supplied the medicine in the last six months and their condition is stable;

    • the medicine has not been supplied under Continued Dispensing arrangements, including Continued Dispensing Emergency Measures, to the person by any pharmacy within the 12 months before the requested supply; and

    • it is safe and appropriate for the person to obtain the medicine.

Pharmacists are expected to adhere to the strict set of professional guidelines available on the PSA website.  It’s your responsibility to make sure you follow the necessary Commonwealth and state/territory legislation before supplying under continued dispensing.

What do I need to do to ensure the patient is eligible to have a medicine dispensed under Continued Dispensing?

You need to meet the requirements for dispensing under the Continued Dispensing arrangements, including confirming that the patient has an immediate need for the medicine and is not able to obtain a prescription from a Medical Practitioner and that the patient has not had the requested medicine dispensed from any pharmacy in the preceding 12 months under Continued Dispensing.

Do I need to comply with Commonwealth legislation or my state/territory legislation?

Supply of medicines under Continued Dispensing arrangements must be consistent with the Commonwealth legislation and the conditions of any relevant state or territory legislation or emergency public health orders. Pharmacists should refer to PSA’s COVID-19 microsite on the PSA website to access the most up to date information.

I have a situation where I cannot dispense a medication under Continued Dispensing to a person because they have previously had this medicine dispensed under Continued Dispensing in the last 12 months. What other options are available?

Continued Dispensing complements other emergency supply provisions available under state and territory legislation, including the 3/7 day emergency supply rule and the “owing prescription” provision. You will need to comply with state and territory requirements.

In addition, the Australian Government has introduced a range of new measures to enable people to access health services in their home such as the telehealth and digital imaging which the person may be eligible for. More information on these and other measures is available on the Health website.

Do I have to get the person to sign anything?

Yes. You are required to get the person to sign a declaration acknowledging that they have been supplied with medicines under these arrangements.

Your pharmacy dispensing software (PDS) will generate a Modified Repeat Authorisation Form, which you can use to record:

  • the details of the Continued Dispensing supply; and

  • the person’s signature to show they received the medicine.

Your PDS will also generate a Consumer Declaration and Prescriber Notification Form, which you can use to:

  • show that the person understands they were supplied without consultation from their prescriber; and

  • notify the person's most recent prescriber, or clinical practice, that a Continued Dispensing supply was given.

What documentation do I need to keep?

You must record the information used to support your decision to supply medicine under Continued Dispensing. You must:

  • keep records for two (2) years from the date of supply

  • keep your records consistent with other records

  • comply with state or territory and Commonwealth legislation.

What medicines can I dispense under this new arrangement?

PBS items that can be supplied under Continued Dispensing arrangements will be flagged in dispensing software and PBS Online.

Please note that medicines supplied under section 100 Special Supply Arrangements are not available under these arrangements. This includes medicines available through the Highly Specialised Drugs Program, Community Access Stream such as HIV medicines.

Does the person or prescriber need to provide a PBS prescription before I can make my PBS claim?

  • No. However, you should notify the person’s most recent prescriber, or their practice, in writing that a Continued Dispensing supply has been given to the person.

I know the person’s previous prescription was for an increased quantity. Can I supply that amount instead of the standard PBS/RPBS quantity?

  • Yes, provided you are compliant with your relevant state or territory legislation. If your state and territory legislation allows, your pharmacy dispensing software will explain how to process a previous authority supply for an increased quantity as Continued Dispensing.
  • While the Commonwealth provisions do not prohibit the Continued Dispensing for an increased quantity, state and territory provisions may not allow an emergency supply that is in excess of a standard PBS/RPBS quantity in the absence of a prescription.

Will I be able to make claims for streamlined or authority required items?

  • You will be able to make claims for any Continued Dispensing medicines, including those that are Authority Required (Streamlined) and Authority Required.

What should I do if the Continued Dispensing claim has been rejected?

  • If you have submitted a Continued Dispensing claim for an Authority Required medicine, ensure that your claim meets the legislative requirements (including your relevant state or territory legislative requirements) and guidelines.
  • If a Continued Dispensing claim for unrestricted or restricted medicine has been rejected, follow the advice provided by your pharmacy dispensing software (PDS). If you require further support, contact the PBS general enquiries line on 132 290 (Option 2).

What do I do if the person does not have their Medicare or health care card?

  • If a person does not have their Medicare, DVA or Centrelink card you should ring the PBS general enquiries line 132 290 (press option 1), for assistance.

For Prescribers

Why has the medicines available under continued dispensing been changed?

  • Continued Dispensing originally applied to PBS-listed oral contraceptives and statins. However, in response to the bushfire crisis, the Government temporarily expanded these arrangements to include most PBS medicines through Continued Dispensing (Emergency Measures). These emergency arrangements have been extended until 31 December 2021 to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have a situation where my patient is self-isolating and unable to attend my GP clinic to obtain a prescription for a medicine they regularly take. What options are available?

  • The Australian Government has introduced a range of measures to enable people to access health services in their home while they undergo self-isolation or quarantine, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for vulnerable people in the community.
  • For example, the use of telehealth consultations, digital copy prescriptions and/or home delivery services.  Further information is available on the Health website.

What are the requirements for my patient to be supplied PBS medicines without a prescription under Continued Dispensing arrangements?

  • Before dispensing medicines under these Continued Dispensing arrangements, the pharmacist must be satisfied that:
    • the person has an immediate need for the medicine;

    • circumstances prevented the person from accessing a prescriber (face-to-face or via telehealth) to obtain a new prescription;

    • it is not possible to obtain an “image based script” or approval for an “owing prescription” from a prescriber;

    • the medicine is eligible for supply under the arrangements (including under relevant state/territory legislation);

    • the person has been supplied the medicine in the last six months and their condition is stable;

    • the medicine has not been supplied under Continued Dispensing arrangements to the person by any pharmacy within the 12 months before the requested supply; and

    • it is safe and appropriate for the person to obtain the medicine.

Will my patient continue to be able to get these medicines without a prescription?

  • No. A Continued Dispensing medicine can only be supplied once in a 12 month period. Your patient will need to ensure they obtain a prescription for any future supplies of their medicines.

I have received a notification that a person has been provided PBS medicines under the Continued Dispensing arrangements. Do I need to provide a follow-up prescription?

  • No. However, you may wish to engage with the person to ensure they obtain prescriptions for any future supplies of these medicines.

For Software Vendors

What happens to the eligible list of medicines for Continued Dispensing when new medicines get listed on the PBS?

  • The only permissible PBS medicines for the original Continued Dispensing arrangements were originally oral contraceptives and cholesterol-lowering medicines (statins). Under the Emergency Measure, all s85 unrestricted, restricted, streamlined authority and authority required medicines are eligible to be dispensed under these arrangements.  It is important to note that any new PBS medicine listings that sit under these drug classes will automatically become eligible for patient access under Continued Dispensing arrangements.

Will I require a Notice of Integration (NOI) from Services Australia?

  • A NOI will not be required for this change.

Will there be a Software Vendor Testing (SVT) Environment?

  • Software Vendor Testing environment will be available if you wish to conduct testing, however, it is not mandatory for this change. Technical documentation on changes required in Dispensing Software may be available from Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA). Alternatively, software vendors can contact Online Technical Support at Services Australia on 1300 550 115 (Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5.00 pm AEST).

For general PBS enquiries, members of the public can phone the Department of Health PBS information Line on 1800 020 613, or alternatively email the Department of Health.


22 February 2021

COVID Vaccines

We have not received any updates in relation to NPs participating in the Commonwealth program for COVID vaccines.  Specifically, we are waiting on new MBS items in the hope that we can contribute in the community given that NP clinics have been excluded from the EOI process.  In some States and Territories there may be opportunities to participate more locally, without needing MBS access, please check with your State Chair or Department of Health.

We strongly encourage you all to undertake the Commonwealth Government training now, and also check whether there is additional training required in your State or Territory.  

Primary Health Care COVID-19 Response Teleconference (PCIG).  Below are helpful links to current information relating to Covid-19 and the vaccination

From PCIG - 17 Feb

From PCIG - 10 Feb


19 January 2021

Please find attached a letter and stakeholder kit to share with your networks from Professor Paul Kelly, Chief Medical Officer, Australian Government Department of Health about the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines.

The department will continue to provide regular updates and communication materials as more information becomes available in the coming weeks.



23 September 2020

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

13 August 2020

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.

15 July

Update from the Primary Health Care Covid-19 Response Teleconference (Meeting 17) - IMPORTANT links to assist you.

  1. Continuous care with telehealth stage seven
  2. Press conference in Melbourne about coronavirus (COVID-19)
  3. Australia's first COVID-19 treatment approved

8 July

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 mentalhealth.coronavirus@health.gov.au

12 May 2020

Two new publications relating to Covid-19 and immunisations have been released:

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 admin@acnp.org.au 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 membership@acnp.org.au 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