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COVID-19: GP Alert (21 April 2020)

April 21, 2020

New bulk billing incentives for patients vulnerable to COVID-19

GPs and Other Medical Practitioners must continue to bulk-bill the COVID-19 telehealth and telephone consultation services where the service is provided to a concessional or vulnerable patient or a child under 16 at the time the service is provided. For all other patients, these services may be bulk-billed.

Bulk billing incentive items are currently available for medical services for patients who are either under 16 years of age, or who are a concessional beneficiary (items 10990, 10991 and 10992).

Two new bulk billing incentive items are now available where a medical service is provided to a vulnerable patient:

  • item 10981 mirrors the current item 10990 metropolitan
  • item 10982 mirrors the current item 10991 regional

The new bulk-billing incentive items 10981 and 10982 can be claimed with face-to-face attendances or with the new COVID-19 telehealth and telephone services, where the conditions of the bulk billing incentives are met.

For eligibility requirements, view the GPs and OMPs items factsheet here: http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/Factsheet-TempBB

Update to CDNA guidelines

The CDNA national guidelines were updated on 17 April 2020 and can be here: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdna-song-novel-coronavirus.htm

Updates include:

  • COVID-19 cases are considered to be infectious 48-hours prior to onset of symptoms.
  • A close contact requires face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed or probable case, for greater than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case, or sharing of a closed space with a confirmed or probable case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 48 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed or probable case.
  • Routine laboratory screening for COVID-19 is not recommended for asymptomatic close contacts; however, in certain high-risk outbreak settings (see suspect case definition), public health units may consider testing asymptomatic contacts to inform management of the outbreak.

Impacts on the National Cervical Cancer Screening Program

The cancerscreening.gov.au website has been updated to provide healthcare providers with guidance about managing cervical screening participants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overarching guidance to assist clinician decision-making on screening appointments including deferral and rescheduling, depending on individual patient circumstances. In addition, the Program has developed guidance for the management of patients requiring further investigation and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the cancellation of elective surgeries.

The Department of Health will continue to monitor COVID-19 impacts on the program, and provide any future updates on the Department of Health Cancer Screening website. If you or your staff have any further queries, they can be sent to cancerscreening@health.gov.au

Queensland Health Guidelines for PPE

PPE supply chains have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic therefore the State-wide Infection Clinical Network endorses the rational use of PPE and support measures to conserve PPE where it is possible to safely do so.

Please note the threshold for a ‘suspected case’ and recommendations regarding PPE use may change over time depending on the phase of the pandemic in your locality.

Read the Queensland Health Guidelines for PPE
View RACGP videos that may assist practices in using PPE and hand sanitising

PIP and WIP changes in response to COVID-19 to support general practice

Several temporary measures under the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) and Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) have been implemented by the Department of Health and Services Australia to support practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Medical Association have put together a helpful article to explain these changes.

Upcoming Webinars

> Wednesday, 22 April - Avant 'Ask the Expert' COVID-19 session for GPs

> Thursday, 23 April - Managing Heart Failure in the Covid era

> Friday, 24 April - Care during and beyond the COVID-19 Crisis - Supporting Resilient Communities in Times of Public Health Crisis

> Tuesday, 28 April - Australian Digital Health Agency Electronic prescribing update for dispensers

> Wednesday, 29 April - Australian Digital Health Agency Electronic prescribing update for prescribers

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affecting Health Care practitioners in the Darling Downs and West Moreton Regions: