The Australian Government’s temporary introduction of telehealth services via Medicare during COVID-19 must be made permanent to give all Australians access to safe and high quality healthcare.

APA National President Phil Calvert says funding of telehealth has demonstrated video consultations are safe, appropriate and cost effective for a vast number of clinical presentations.

Mr Calvert says, “The fast tracking of telehealth funding by Medicare and health insurers was absolutely correct, but it needs to be extended beyond the current September 30 cut-off date. Access to physiotherapy for Australians with disabilities or those who live outside of our major metro and regional centres is poor. It’s important we offer solutions that provide equal access to the health services they need. Physio telehealth is safe, effective and affordable, which is exactly the type of health care we need to continue.”

The constantly evolving nature of the pandemic has also highlighted the need for the establishment of a national Chief Allied Health Officer to support Australia’s 130,000 strong allied health workforce, representing one third of our overall health workforce. The role would act as an advisor to government and coordinate allied health specific information and responses. The concerns over inadequate supply of PPE at the height of the pandemic to allied health workers and confusion over prioritised access highlighted this need.

Mr Calvert says it would complete the loop on federally appointed chief health roles. “We’ve seen how effectively information was conveyed by our Chief Medical Officer, Nursing Officer and now the newly appointed Mental Health Officer. It’s imperative we have a similarly centralised and coordinated role for allied health, which will bring the necessary understanding of the allied health sector to support government in planning and resourcing appropriate services.”

 “The government has done an extraordinary job keeping us safe and limiting the full effect COVID-19, but for long term recovery post the pandemic, these extended initiatives are imperative.”

 
 

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