Government makes good call on telehealth

29 March 2020

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement today of a $500 million funding boost for general practice, that supports jobs and enables nurses and nurse practitioners to care for patients via telehealth.

“This is an important step forward for vulnerable patients, general practices and for nurses who want to keep their communities healthy,” says APNA President Karen Booth.

“At a time when more people are staying at home for fear of catching coronavirus, it is critical that nurses can use telehealth as part of the general practice team. This will free up time for doctors and help avoid unnecessary hospitalisations of people.”

The package opens up telehealth and telephone Medicare items to all Australians, doubles the bulk billing incentive for GPs, and introduces a new incentive payment to help general practices stay open to provide face-to-face services for people with conditions that cannot be treated by telehealth. The telehealth changes enable nurses to contribute to chronic disease management and care planning.

Ms Booth says the new funding arrangements will support jobs for nurses by improving the viability of general practices.

“Above all, these changes will enable ongoing supported care for people with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, keeping them out of hospital at a time of heavy pressure on the system,” she says.

“We have a duty of care to these people to use every tool available to keep them as well as possible. We can’t afford, for example, for them to miss their medications and end up in hospital where they’re at risk of exposure to coronavirus.”

Ms Booth says APNA will continue to work constructively with the Federal Government for the benefit of patients, the community and health workers at a time of unprecedented challenge to the Australian health system. “Primary health care nurses are a vital part of the Government’s Team Australia response to COVID-19. APNA will continue to ensure their voice is heard in Canberra,” she says.

APNA has been joined this past week in advocating for health system change by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, the Australasian Institute of Digital Health, and other nursing organisations.

Media enquiries:
Tony Wells
0417 627 916

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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