Government confirms COVID-19 telehealth items

12 Mar 2020

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said earlier this week that the AMA welcomes the Government’s COVID-19 health package—especially the roll-out of new Medicare telehealth items and respiratory clinics.

At the time of writing the AMA was discussing the fine details of the package with the Government and Department of Health—Dr Bartone was pushing to make sure that the telehealth items will help doctors to safely assess patients who may have contracted coronavirus.

“This initiative will support and protect patients who are more vulnerable to the impact of the virus by keeping them away from areas where they might be exposed to the virus, and help to minimise the risks of transmission,” Dr Bartone said.

Dr Bartone said the AMA will work with Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and other groups to identify the most appropriate properly resourced sites for the 100 new ‘pop-up respiratory’ fever clinics announced by the Government.

“These will need to be located in larger general practices that have the space and infrastructure to cordon off a separate clinic area to allow normal everyday GP work to be conducted without interruption.

“We need to get these clinics identified and up and running as soon as possible,” Dr Bartone said.

Dr Bartone said it is vital that the Government’s $30 million national communications campaign gets clear and comprehensive public health messages and information to the general public and frontline health workers as a matter of urgency.

“There is a lot of information flowing from the Federal and State and Territory Governments, and from Chief Medical Officers and Chief Health Officers and Health Departments, but the AMA is hearing that the messaging has been inconsistent, and sometimes conflicting.

“We need to see clear and instructional education and information material, in many languages, at every airport, railway station, bus stop and station, doctor’s surgery, shopping centre, office blocks, schools, post offices, everywhere where people gather.

“COVID-19 is a national emergency, and we must all respond accordingly. Education about how to avoid contracting this deadly virus is crucial to stop its spread,” Dr Bartone said.

Dr Bartone said that the AMA is very concerned about the serious impact COVID-19 will have on the aged care sector. The AMA is confident there will be further Government announcements to cover this sector in coming days.

Read the full media release here.