20 April 2020 News - Changes to COVID-19 services

Bulk-billing: Specialists and allied health providers are no longer required to bulk-bill COVID-19 telehealth (video conference) and telephone consultations where the service is provided to a concessional or vulnerable patient or a child under 16. Specialists and allied health providers may continue their usual billing practices.

http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/News+2020-04-20

COVID-19 and Accredited Hand Therapists

The Credentialing Council acknowledges the serious impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our everyday lives, including the way in which we are able to practice hand therapy. Notwithstanding the necessity to uphold standards of practice, our priority is to the wellbeing of all members. We are therefore recommending the following changes to accreditation and reaccreditation for 2020:
 
Accreditation

AHT candidates may apply for an extension of 6 months to complete the requirements for accreditation by providing documentary evidence of any of the following:

  • Reduction in employment hours in hand therapy since March 1, 2020
  • Disruption to mentoring relationship since March 1
  • Cancellation of AHTA courses in which they were enrolled since March 1
  • Financial hardship as a result of Covid-19
  • Other extenuating circumstances related to Covid-19 
  • The Credentialing Council may revise the period of extension, if the current disruptions to course access and employment continue beyond 6 months.

Reaccreditation
For all current AHT’s, and those awarded AHT before August 31, 2020, the time period over which CPD hours, and clinical practice hours must be completed will be extended by 6 months. i.e. reaccreditation will now be due 5 years and 6 months from the date of accreditation. You will have 5 years and 6 months to accrue 2000 hours of clinical practice and 150 hours of CPD. There will be no audit of CPD activities undertaken in 2020. It is incumbent upon all members (Associate and AHT) to comply with AHPRA requirements for maintenance of registration during this time.

AHT members who have been able to complete the requirements for reaccreditation, despite disruptions to professional development opportunities and work practice may apply for reaccreditation from 4 years and 9 months from the date of accreditation.
The Credentialing Council may revise the period of extension, if the current disruptions to course access and employment continue beyond 6 months.
 
Thank you everyone for continuing your contributions to the profession during this challenging time. The Committee of Management and Subcommittees have all been working overtime in response to the health crisis. It’s so encouraging to see members sharing their designs for protective equipment and suggestions for ways to continue service provision. Keep a log and a screenshot of these contributions for your Reaccreditation applications. Evidence for telehealth training or Covid-19 infection control training can also be used for your CPD. Hand therapists are resilient and resourceful clinicians. we will get through this together.

Expansion of Telehealth services - 23 March 2020

Minister Hunt has released a media statement this afternoon regarding the further expansion of telehealth items which will include all allied health services. The statement is available at this link https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/expansion-of-telehealth-services?fbclid=IwAR1nS0dZn7myqRpChod-08kulnN48-2ajfe-H59w4dz-ZNGNqEMoV72IC2A

The Allied Health Professionals Association (AHPA) will be meeting with the Department of Health this Wednesday, contributing to the co-design of the Stage 4 telehealth response. We will keep members posted.

The AHTA is grateful to the AHPA and the 29 member bodies for their assistance during this time.

Breaking News 23 March 2020

 Advice from the Federal Minister for Health, The Hon Greg Hunt
 
A priority right now for the AHTA is supporting members to rapidly embed Telehealth into hand therapy practices. To assist in the uptake of Telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak, the AHTA has partnered with the APA who will be providing FREE live Q&A webinars, giving APA members and all AHTA members, the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the provision of this service.
 
Furthermore, AHTA is working hard behind the scenes to advocate for funded Telehealth services. This includes working with relevant third-party payers such as compensable schemes, DVA, MBS and Private Health Insurers to demonstrate the value and need for Telehealth.
 
We are working with Minister Hunt through the Allied Health Professionals Association to strongly call for an extension of the temporary MBS Telehealth item to include hand therapy services for people in isolation or quarantine for COVID-19 and vulnerable patients as defined in the COVID-19 MBS Telehealth items.
 
We are also working to advocate with Private Healthcare Australia and will advise further details on this in the next few days.

COVID-19: AHTA Events

18 March 2020

AHTA is closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As the situation continues to change rapidly, our top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our members and event attendees. We are planning for several contingency scenarios and taking decisive, informed action to limit the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the continuity of our education goals. We will continue to update members and event attendees regularly to keep you informed of additional measures.

AHTA’s goal is to reduce the number of people gathering—in order to slow the potential transmission of the virus and protect vulnerable populations from exposure. The purpose of this guidance is to reduce the chance of transmitting illness into or out of the AHTA community. All members of the AHTA community are asked to help in this effort.

If you are involved in an AHTA event or meeting between 18 March 2020 and 1 Septbember, the AHTA Committee of Management provides the following advice: The AHTA will post-pone all non-essential gatherings. This social distancing measure will limit the spread of illness. Where appropriate, the AHTA may choose to use teleconferencing instead of meeting in person and will employ remote technology (eg.Zoom). The AHTA will provide information to all event registered attendees on the decision relating to their event. Where a course or event requires practical application, the AHTA will postpone the event until later in the year. Attendees that have paid to attend a course that has been postponed due to COVID-19 will receive a credit to attend the course at a later date. Thank you for your understanding and we will continue to keep you informed.

If you have any questions, please email enquire@ahta.com.au