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Primary health care is any medical service that is provided outside the four walls of a hospital, including general practice, aged care, schools, community health and other primary health care settings. Primary health care nurses play a critical role in keeping people healthy, providing proactive care and health promotion to keep Australians well.
The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s extension of Medicare-subsidised telehealth until the end of March 2021.
An additional $2 billion in funding will ensure practice nurses, GPs and allied health professionals can continue using telehealth to support patients during COVID-19.
APNA president Karen Booth says that while the announcement is great news for nurses and vulnerable patients, telehealth should become a permanent fixture in primary health care.
“Nurses in particular have embraced telehealth for patients with chronic disease and it’s also been incredibly valuable in providing healthcare to rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” she says.
“Telehealth has the power to bring a nurse into every Australian home – it needs to become nursing as normal so patients have choice in how they access healthcare.”
Ms Booth says telehealth has been critical in helping people with chronic illness maintain routine healthcare during COVID-19 and has been welcomed by patients.
Medicare subsidised telehealth had been due to end on September 30. APNA has been working with other health groups to secure permanent funding for telehealth.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the scheme has been a “revolution in health” with more than 30 million consultations so far. Minister Hunt says: “It’s kept the patients safe, it’s kept the nurses safe, it’s kept the doctors safe.”
Media inquiries: Tony Wells, 0417 627 916 and firstname.lastname@example.org
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