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RACGP pleads for delay in telehealth compliance rule

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and Australian Medical Association (AMA) have written to federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler once again urging him to delay the introduction of strict telehealth compliance rules set to come into effect tomorrow.

The 30/20 rule would result in any GP providing more than 30 daily phone consultations on 20 or more days over a 12-month period being referred to the Professional Services Review, the body responsible for reviewing and examining possible inappropriate practice by practitioners at the extreme end of non-compliance.

The college previously welcomed the deferral of this rule but RACGP President Adj. Professor Karen Price warned that another postponement was necessary. “This pandemic is not over and now is not the time to tie our hands behind our backs and restrict phone consults,” she said.

“Ask any GP and they will tell you that being able to utilise phone-based services for patients remains a vital tool. Phone consults are especially useful when patients are COVID-19-positive, a close contact of someone with the virus or when the practice has multiple staff down with COVID-19. Keep in mind too that many patients still aren’t confident or comfortable using video technology for telehealth consults, so phone services remain an essential option.

“This is no time for complacency and no time to limit a tool that we can use to help our patients, especially older people and those with multiple, chronic conditions that need to be carefully managed through regular consultations. GPs and general practice teams on the frontline are doing all we can to ensure patients get the care they need when they need it.

“Postponing the introduction of this rule will be a clear sign that the Government recognises the challenges practices are facing. So, please once again we urge the Government to listen to general practice and err on the side of access to care and keep the current telehealth arrangements in place. Otherwise, some patients may well not get the care they need and that is something no one wants.”

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