The Morrison government is providing additional funding to assist the temporary widening of telehealth consultations through GPs and other specialists due to the high infection rate from the Omicron outbreak.
The $24 million will also cover the continued supply of personal protective equipment, such as masks, respirators, face shields and gowns for face-to-face consultations including patients that have tested positive through a rapid antigen test.
The latter aligns with national cabinet’s January 5 decision that RAT tests no longer need to be confirmed by a PCR test.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said telehealth had been a vital support during the pandemic, providing greater flexibility in healthcare delivery at the most critical time and continues to be a fundamental part of the pandemic response.
The government will introduce temporary specialist inpatient telehealth – via video and phone – including initial and complex specialist telephone consultation items, and longer telephone consultations for GPs until June 30, 2022.
“These services will be made available nationally rather than targeted to Commonwealth-declared hotspots as they were previously, recognising the high infection rate and need to provide healthcare support across the community,” Mr Hunt said in a joint statement with Regional Health Minister David Gillespie.
“Enabling specialist medical practitioners to provide telehealth consultations to hospital in-patients as a temporary measure will support continuity of care for patients when their doctor cannot attend the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions.”