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Nurses welcome Government changes on telehealth
20 April 2020
The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision today to expand telehealth funding so practice nurses can provide ongoing care to chronic disease patients during COVID-19.
“These changes have the potential to put a nurse into the home of every Australian with chronic disease. This is great news for patients with conditions like diabetes and heart disease who are staying at home for fear of catching the virus,” says APNA President Karen Booth.
“It means that the nurses they know and trust can reach out to provide monitoring and support as part of the general practice team. This is critical for patient safety.
“Australia can’t afford to be swamped by a wave of chronic illness once it has got through COVID-19. Routine health care has to be maintained so people don’t slip backwards and require hospitalisation.”
Ms Booth says APNA will monitor the impact of the changes, following reports that nurses have lost work due to less patient traffic in some general practices during COVID-19. A survey of 1,000 APNA members found that more than a third had either had their hours reduced or lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic. Ms Booth says APNA is working closely with Government and health sector stakeholders on this issue.
In the telehealth changes announced today, videoconferencing and telephone services by practice nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health practitioners will now be funded items through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
The new MBS items will enable practice nurses to deliver these services on behalf of a medical practitioner. They cover services provided to a person with chronic disease as well as follow-up services for an Indigenous person who has received a health assessment.
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