COVID-19 Member Emails

In addition to information available here on the PNZ website a number of emails have been sent to PNZ members regarding COVID-19. For reference these are available below, in order of most to least recent.


Subject: COVID-19 Business Information

Sent on 27 March 2020 to PNZ business contacts

With the New Zealand Government taking the country to Alert Level 4 this week in response to COVID-19, we are continuing to direct members to official information sources and advocate on your behalf.

To help direct members to useful and accurate business information, there is a PNZ web page with COVID-19 Business Information and FAQs. This page is being updated regularly and links to advice on a number of business-relevant topics including the Government economic response package. We are aware that New Zealand is taking a different approach to COVID-19 than other countries and will continue to work on linking you to New Zealand Government resources.

ADVOCACY

PNZ is in ongoing conversations with Government agencies including ACC and the Ministry of Health (MoH). You will have also seen from our joint communications with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand that we are working with them regarding COVID-19.

While ACC has communicated an expansion of telehealth services, we are in continued contact with them about telehealth rates as well as matters such as the signing of medical certificates and accreditation audits. We had a major win earlier this week with physios under the Cost of Treatment Regulations and Physiotherapy Specialists also being included in the telehealth delivery. We know there are four different rates for telehealth depending on your ACC relationship (you can find the current rates here). We have pushed back on the rates and will continue this pressure. Please be aware of ACC’s web pages with COVID-19 information for providers and Provider COVID-19 updates

There have also been lengthy discussions with MoH on essential services. We are assured that the important role of physiotherapy is recognised in MoH and will continue to advocate on this. We do not expect this will change during the current Level 4 alert stage but are working on the change as we come out. All of the arguments about the value of physiotherapy, particularly around supporting primary care manage musculoskeletal conditions and other non-communicable diseases are being used.

Thank you for supporting our advocacy. Do remember one of the drivers for creating a unified PNZ is to have a strong single voice going to Government. If you make contact with anyone across Government with regards to your work, either personally or as an organisation, please let PNZ know at pnz@physiotherapy.org.nz so that we can continue to engage with a united voice.

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT WEBINAR

A webinar for members who manage private practices that are not on the Government essential services list is being organised with our employment support partner Humankind. This will be hosted by Humankind from 1pm to 2pm next Wednesday (1 April). Please look out for an invite to join. If you have any specific questions for during this session please send these to louise@humankind.nz with PNZ Webinar in the email subject line. While there will be an opportunity to ask other questions by chat during the webinar, this will help the Humankind team make the most of the time available.

THANK YOU

Finally, thank you again for your continued support. The PNZ website is being used by members and we will keep making information available here as well as communicate regularly through email. Likewise our Find a Physio webpage continues to be visited by people searching for members. When contacted by the public please ensure that you let them know what services you can offer.

Take care.


Subject: COVID-19

Sent on 27 March 2020 to all PNZ members

WHAT A WEEK

I hope this finds you and yours safe and well.

The New Zealand government response to Covid-19 moved further and faster than anyone could have predicted last week. New Zealand is taking a different approach to this pandemic than other countries. We are all in uncharted waters and that is uncomfortable.

Our PNZ staff have been inundated with email traffic as you can imagine and have also worked tirelessly to provide information to members and to advocate on your behalf to Ministry of Health and ACC.

The PNZ website is being used by members and we will continue to make information available here as well as communicate regularly with through email. There are 3 separate pages set up for the Covid-19 information:

Likewise our Find a Physio webpage continues to be visited by people searching for members. When contacted by the public please ensure that you let them know what services you can currently offer.

ADVOCACY

It is hard for us as a profession to hear our community based services are not considered essential. There have been lengthy discussions with the Ministry of Health on this topic. The public health imperative to reduce face to face contact to a minimum overrode any considerations about the important place of physiotherapy in the primary health system. If we get things under control the restrictions will be reviewed and we can expect change. The important role of physiotherapy is recognised in the Ministry of Health. The Chief Allied Health Professions Officer sits at the top table in the Ministry. We will continue to advocate on your behalf.

Sandra and her team have been grateful for information from members that supports them in advocating for the specific needs of physiotherapists and their clients/patients. The practical information and case scenarios are invaluable.

Do remember one of the drivers for creating a unified PNZ was to have a strong single voice going to government. If you make contact with anyone across Government with regards to your work, either personally or as an organisation, please let PNZ know at pnz@physiotherapy.org.nz so that we can continue to engage with a united voice for the profession.

INFORMATION FOR BUSINESSES

The impact of the Level 4 alert has hit community based physiotherapy practices hard. We, at PNZ, are all very aware of this. The PNZ Office team are collating information for businesses regarding COVID-19.

Please refer to the PNZ COVID-19 Business Information and FAQs webpage for updated advice on the Government economic response package, support of Māori communities and businesses, the financing guarantee scheme and mortgage repayment holidays.

A webinar for members who manage private practices that are not on the Government essential services list is also being organised with our employment support partner Humankind. Please look out for an invite to join this webinar and put questions to the team at Humankind.

I received a message of support this morning from Jonathan Kruger at WCPT and extending WCPT best wishes to all of us. He says the experiences of the french and Italian physiotherapists are "truly frightening". Hopefully the New Zealand response will protect us all from that.

In these times there are some simple messages we all need to hear and practice.

Be Kind. Stay home. Wash your hands.

Kia kaha

Liz


Subject: Rest Homes / Aged Care Facilities – Guidance for Physiotherapists

Sent on 26 March 2020 to all PNZ members

The information below is being emailed to the profession by the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. To help ensure all physiotherapists receive this message, PNZ is also forwarding it to members.

We are receiving a number of questions regarding physiotherapists providing services to rest homes and aged residential care facilities; and responsibilities of physiotherapists supervising physiotherapy assistants.

The latest information on the covid19 website (as at 12.30 pm 25 March 2020) includes the following services within the definition of essential service:

  • Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, kaiāwhina workers, social workers, aged care and community workers, and caregivers more generally
  • Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (e.g. rest homes)

Rest Homes and Aged Care Facilities

As stated above rest homes and aged care facilities are an essential service.

Whether physiotherapists should continue to provide services to rest homes and aged care facilities depends on the nature of the services requested and how they will be delivered:

  • Rest homes and aged care facilities should discuss the physiotherapy services they require with the physiotherapist
  • The physiotherapist then needs to exercise their clinical judgement as to whether the service requested is essential having regard to need, urgency, and the requirement to assess risks to the health of the residents and the physiotherapist’s health and safety obligations towards their workforce.

If the physiotherapist agrees the request is essential, and cannot be delivered effectively by other means, such as via telehealth facilities, then they comply with the facility infection control requirements and provide the requested service.

Supervision of Physiotherapy Assistants by Physiotherapists

As above the judgement of what services physiotherapy assistants are providing is determined by the physiotherapists. The decision will be based on if it is essential or whether it can wait.

Supervision is required and the key here is needs to be appropriate supervision. Consideration of whether this is undertaken remotely or otherwise is again a clinical judgement based on what is being done.

The overriding message is that reduction of contact is vital in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19. The elderly are most notably vulnerable so any contact needs to be avoided wherever this is possible.

There will continue to be queries and one off situations – we are happy to discuss and provide guidance so please contact us on physioboard@physioboard.org.nz

Noho ora mai

Physiotherapy Board


Subject: MoH call for allied health workers

Sent on 26 March 2020 to all PNZ members

The Ministry of Health (MoH) have been working to develop a system to nationally coordinate the matching of supply and demand for health care workers regarding COVID-19. They have indicated that this is a role where allied health workers who cannot undertake their own clinic work will be invaluable in supporting New Zealanders stay safe and stay well.

MoH are seeking people to work in both general and clinically specialised roles as we scale up the health and care workforce. People will be matched to roles based on their competencies, and appropriate training and oversight will be provided (where required) to ensure safe practice. This means understanding who is available to work, and matching them to roles that need to be filled in the sector. Some of these will be contact roles, while others will be supporting services such as Healthline and contact tracing, which can be done remotely.

The information required from allied health workers will include your availability, coordinating re-registration with the relevant regulatory board or council where required, and then supporting the process to get into employment quickly.

If you are able to assist with the COVID-19 response, the link to register your interest is HERE..

Please note if you have already provided your information to the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand they will pass their register over to MoH so you don’t need to repeat the process. The Physiotherapy Board will no longer be collecting new registrations now this has been set up.

For more information, please see the full media release from MoH below.

Media release / website information for all health workers

25 March 2020

The Ministry of Health is moving to increase the capacity of the health workforce to deliver essential health services.

We are seeking expressions of interest from health and care professionals who are able and willing to work for a limited amount of time as part of the national strategic approach to managing COVID-19.

We have already been asking retired health professionals to express their interest in working within the health and disability system, and now we would also like to hear from current health workers who may be available as non-essential services are paused.

We are seeking people to work in both general and clinically specialised roles as we scale up the health and care workforce. People will be matched to roles based on their competencies, and appropriate training and oversight will be provided (where required) to ensure safe practice.The Ministry of Health has put in place a system to nationally coordinate the matching of supply and demand. This means understanding who is available to work, and matching them to roles that need to be filled in the sector. Some of these will be contact roles, while others will be supporting services such as Healthline and contact tracing, which can be done remotely.

The Ministry of Health is partnering with Accent Health to manage this process on our behalf. For health workers, they will be collecting information about their availability, co-ordinating re-registration with the relevant regulatory board or council where required, and then supporting the process to get into employment quickly.

Employers will be able to log their workforce requests, and then people will be matched to positions. We are aware that demand may exceed supply, and we are developing a prioritisation process to manage this. This will be communicated once finalised.

If you are a health or care worker who is able to assist with the COVID-19 response please register your interest here.

If you are an employer, further information will be available in the next 24 hours on how to log requests.


Subject: Physiotherapy Board and Physiotherapy New Zealand joint statement: COVID-19 update

Sent on 25 March 2020 to all PNZ members

The statement below is being emailed to the profession by the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. To help ensure all physiotherapists receive this message, PNZ is also forwarding it to all members.

Tēnā koe

We hope everyone is doing OK and taking care of yourself and your whānau as we quickly work through the implications of the recent announcements. 

Level Alert

As you will be aware the Prime Minister has announced New Zealand is now at Level 3 for COVID-19 alert, Restrict - Heightened risk that disease is not contained.

The Prime Minister has also announced New Zealand's COVID-19 alert will increase to Level 4 at 11:59 pm Wednesday 25 March, Eliminate - Likely that disease is not contained. Measures needed locally and nationally include:

  • People instructed to stay home
  • Educational facilities closed
  • Businesses closed except for essential services
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
  • Travel severely limited
  • Major reprioritisation of healthcare services.

    Therefore the Physiotherapy Board and Physiotherapy New Zealand require all non-essential services to be suspended immediately to reduce community spread. This includes yourself, your staff and your patients.

    The Physiotherapy Board and Physiotherapy New Zealand require all non- essential physiotherapy services to meet all applicable Level 4 measures by Wednesday 25 March.

    What this means for you

    Physiotherapists employed by District Health Boards (DHBs and other hospitals)

    The requirements for your service and practice will be under the direction of your employer. Please follow their advice.

    All other Physiotherapists (primary, community, workplace based, private i.e. all non - DHB settings)


    Under Alert Level 4 you are no longer able to provide any face to face, clinic based or direct services.

    You must close your clinic, remove yourself from the setting that you are working in and go home.

    You can, if able to, provide electronic (telemedicine, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, phone call) services to your patients (within contractual requirements). Clinical records must be maintained recording that the consultation was via whatever means.

    The Allied health best practice guide for telehealth is here
    The Board's telehealth standard is here

    Thank you

    If you, your family or whānau are on the frontline of the COVID-10 response. You have our sincere thanks.

    Noho ora mai,

    Janice Mueller
    Chairperson (Physiotherapy Board)

    Liz Binns
    President (PNZ)

    Jeanette Woltman-Black
    Chief Executive (Physiotherapy Board)

    Sandra Kirby
    Chief Executive (PNZ)


    Subject: Essential Services

    Sent on 24 March 2020 to all PNZ members

    The New Zealand Government has advised the following regarding essential services on covid19.govt.nz (current 24 March 2020).

    “Entities and their workers carrying out the following services are considered essential. This also includes entities in their supply chains (eg those providing IT and data infrastructure to an entity providing an essential service). This list will evolve over time. It was last updated at 8pm, 23 March 2020.”

    “Health - Lead agency: Ministry of Health

    • District Health Boards (and all of their facilities), Pharmac, New Zealand Blood Service, Health Promotion Agency, Health Quality and Safety Commission
    • Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, kaiāwhina workers, social workers, aged care and community workers, and caregivers more generally
    • Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (eg rest homes)
    • Any entity providing ambulance services
    • Any entity involved with the deceased/tūpāpaku (eg funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries)
    • Any entity producing health sector equipment, medicines and PPE”

    This advice identifies that physiotherapists not working in organisations listed above should only be engaging with the public over the phone or telehealth services.

    PNZ is in ongoing contact with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to be able to inform members if they are working in an organisation providing essential services. We will continue to advocate for physiotherapy to be added to the list of essential services and keep PNZ members updated when more information from MoH is available.

    Member Queries
    Please be aware that PNZ is currently receiving a high volume of queries largely related to telehealth and essential services. In order to be efficient and effective with our support to members please look out for these regular email updates and information on the PNZ website, that is being informed by our regular contact with MoH and ACC. Thanks everyone for your patience at these unprecedented times. We are reviewing all of your emails to ensure we are considering all queries and helpful suggestions.

    Telehealth Services

    For anyone who missed our earlier email to members, as of March 23 ACC has communicated with PNZ that ACC has announced further expansion of telehealth services. Over the next few days ACC will make a detailed announcement that physiotherapy services, initial consultations and follow up appointments, delivered under CoT regulations and all other services will now be able to be delivered via telehealth services. The final details of the expansion of telehealth services are currently being worked through and will be released in the next few days.

    Thank you all and take care.


    Subject: Telehealth Services

    Sent on 24 March 2020 to all PNZ members

    As of yesterday evening (March 23 2020), ACC has communicated with PNZ that ACC has announced further expansion of telehealth services.

    Over the next few days ACC will make a detailed announcement that physiotherapy services, initial consultations and follow up appointments, delivered under CoT regulations and all other services will now be able to be delivered via telehealth services. The final details of the expansion of telehealth services are currently being worked through and will be released in the next few days.

    PNZ will continue to keep members updated with information on this as it becomes available.

    Thank you for your continued commitment to our profession and for everyone’s work in advocating to ACC for telehealth services.


    Subject: COVID-19

    Sent on 23 March 2020 to all PNZ members

    WE ARE WORKING FOR YOU

    Thanks again to all our members for your dedication at this time. From when we first started receiving news of the Covid-19 virus in other countries PNZ Office and the PNZ Executive have been working to support members. Much of this advocacy is behind the scenes, here's what we've been focused on.

    More detail is here on the PNZ website. This is being continually updated with the links to relevant resources and we'll keep communicating with you through the website and by email. Please note that because these official guidelines are changing as the situation evolves, we are linking to information on Government sites.

    ACC

    • We have been advocating strongly to ACC for telehealth across all physiotherapy services to be funded, and funded at normal follow up rates. This has been partially successful, in getting hand therapy and some other services funded from Friday
    • Like you we're obviously disappointed that physiotherapy under cost of treatment regulations was excluded on Friday. We have immediately sought a review of this decision and will keep on advocating for this funding.
    • There are other ACC questions we have put to ACC and are awaiting responses. This includes physiotherapists being able to sign off work certificates and delaying planned accreditation visits.

    Ministry of Health (MoH)

    • We've sought advice from MoH regarding what of physiotherapy is considered an "essential service". We now this is currently being considered by MoH and we will share this information as soon as we have it.
    • We have also advocated to MoH for physiotherapy to be funded for non-injury related musculoskeletal conditions - this currently happens in some areas but not consistently and can take pressure off GPs and nurses. Given the rapidly changing nature of the alert levels this may be part of the return to normality now, but we will keep pushing.

    Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ)

    • PNZ Office has been talking with the PBNZ about how physiotherapists can work if the emergency situation evolves. PBNZ are currently working on a communication to the profession on this.

    Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

    • We are aware of the impact on physiotherapists for the immediate drop in work. Access to employer advice is critical and has been provided. We urge you to apply for the MBIE employer subsidy scheme for your staff to support people stay in employment if you can demonstrate a 30% drop in earnings.

    AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?

    It's an overused phrase this week but we are in unprecedented times for most of us. So as we tread the uncharted territory together we need to remember:

    • Look after yourself and your family. Follow the health care advice you frequently offer to your clients.
    • Find out if your employer offers EAP and use this if you need it.
    • If you have professional supervision or utilise peer supervision use it. If you haven't accessed this yet consider starting peer supervision. We have resources to help here.

    We're continuing to review PNZ courses and meetings (with the change in alert level this is daily). Please look out for updates on any courses or meetings you're attending.


    Subject: COVID-19 information for physiotherapy businesses

    Sent on 20 March 2020 to PNZ business contacts

    As COVID-19 updates continue to be made by the New Zealand Government, please find a summary of current information for physiotherapy businesses below. This will also be posted on the PNZ website and reviewed as new resources become available.

    From ongoing contact with members, every business is different and requires varied information. With this in mind, we are following advice from the New Zealand Government and directing members to official information sources. This includes information from ACC, the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and New Zealand Government.

    The New Zealand Government has information on their website covid19.govt.nz with links to information for employers including uniting against COVID-19 in the workplace, self-isolating staff, sick staff and employers supporting staff. In addition there is a PNZ webpage with answers to COVID-19 Business FAQs that you may find helpful.

    PNZ Office is also working with key partners including ACC, the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ), MoH and our insurance partner BMS on their activity regarding COVID-19. This includes encouraging ACC to fund telehealth access across all services, including the physiotherapy contract, as well as engaging with the PBNZ on Continuing Professional Development requirements and APC renewals.

    ACC
    The ACC website has a page with important information about novel coronavirus COVID-19 and updates are being provided on the ACC Newsroom. PNZ is in regular communication with ACC and our Clinical Partner Melissa Barry. As mentioned above, they are currently considering arrangements for telehealth and a position on this will be released in the next few days and communicated to the health sector when decisions have been made. For anyone new to telehealth, The Physiotherapy Standards Framework includes a telehealth standard and PNZ has contributed to the Allied Health Aotearoa NZ Best Practice Guidelines.

    Economic Response Package
    The Government has released an economic response package to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 and support the economy, with information available at MBIE’s business.govt.nz website. The package includes a wage subsidy scheme, leave and self-isolation support, business cash flow and tax measures, and wider $12.1 billion package. The Ministry of Social Development has details on their Work and Income website about applying for the wage subsidy or leave payment and definitions for wage subsidy qualifications. Like others, PNZ Office is working to understand how the economic response package applies to members.

    Employment Support
    Humankind, PNZ's employment support partner, have provided an Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus. Please read their latest update here including answers to frequently asked questions. We’re also working with Humankind on a webinar for PNZ members who run businesses to ask employment questions. While this is organised please email any questions for their team to pnz@physiotherapy.org.nz with “Humankind webinar” in the subject line.

    Thank You
    Thanks for your engagement with our team at this time. We are receiving ongoing information from members, which is contributing greatly to the availability of these resources and how PNZ can continue to work with key partners on behalf of the profession.


    Subject: COVID-19

    Sent on 19 March 2020 to all PNZ members

    My thoughts and those of the PNZ Executive are with you all as we continue with daily updates from the New Zealand Government on COVID-19.

    The pace of change in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is faster than anyone could have predicted. I hope you and your family/whanau are well and are looking out for colleagues, vulnerable patients and neighbours.

    This is an unprecedented, challenging time for everyone, including our physiotherapy profession. Physios are kind, compassionate, and empathic people and many of you are dealing with the impact and effect of COVID-19, while our colleagues in the DHBs are contributing to the preparedness that is occurring for hospitals to be able to cope if an influx occurs.

    Please know that PNZ will do everything it can to support you, our members, and the PNZ Office team are proactively working on your behalf gathering information and advocating for you to ACC and the Ministry of Health. This includes encouraging ACC to fund telehealth – the same call is coming from physios in Australia and the USA; and understanding the support package that is available for businesses from the Ministry of Social Development in order to help you navigate the process.

    World Physiotherapy (the new name for WCPT) have collated information and resources that may be of use and could be adapted. You can find these on the WCPT website.

    The situation is extremely fluid, changing on a daily basis. While we will continue to monitor this, I urge you to use the Ministry of Health website for the most up to date information. We have to rely on the New Zealand Government guidelines as our most reliable information source. Check the date on anything you read – because it changes that fast (this is why we are linking members to the MoH website). This pandemic has touched, and will touch, the lives of many of us and the people we each care about.

    Thank you for your resilience and ongoing commitment to the profession.

    Take care

    Liz Binns

    President


    Subject: COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

    Sent on 16 March 2020 to all PNZ members

    With the COVID-19 situation changing rapidly, Physiotherapy New Zealand is continuing to monitor updates to provide members with the latest information as it becomes available.

    Current advice from the New Zealand Government, as of 16 March 2020, is below. We urge you to be vigilant for signs of the virus and be aware of Government information sources. The PNZ website has links to shared resources, including the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). While our website is being updated regularly, please be aware that the latest information is on the Government pages.

    Directing to Government Advice
    The Government is following the Pandemic Planning guidelines developed post H1N1. This is based on the learnings from earlier pandemics, including the measles last year, that coordinated actions were preferable to differing guidelines from different organisations. As of this morning regional DHBs are also now providing information, supported by MoH. As we move through the pandemic stages the advice will change – for example if an area goes into lock down (like Northern Italy did then all of Italy) that advice could change overnight. These are reasons for us to not duplicate resources and rather direct to Government advice.

    Practices
    We encourage all members to be aware of their practice’s policy on pandemic planning and business continuity. It is time to ensure these are current and followed. There is a web page with information for businesses on business.govt.nz (part of MBIE), including how the coronavirus may affect New Zealand businesses. Humankind, our employment support partner, have also provided advice for employers.

    Although some DHB areas have started creating posters (an example from CDHB is here), we are not aware of any current MoH advice on signage – so organisations are making their own decisions on this. Similarly, we have heard that some practices are adding a message to patient reminders the day before their appointment asking “if you have any flu/cold symptoms, please text back to change your appt.” Again, there is no specific advice on this from MoH.

    PNZ Office has contacted ACC regarding COVID-19, including about engagement with patients via telehealth. We will let members know as soon as a response is received.

    Events
    MoH has COVID-19 advice for public events and mass gatherings. At this stage, they do not propose altering arrangements for public events (for groups across PNZ this includes events such as seminars and meetings). However PNZ acknowledges the role individual event organisers have when deciding on whether to proceed or not with a planned seminar or event. With members of PNZ hosting events across the country, we are continuing to review this website for updates.

    Advice for travellers is that people coming into New Zealand should check the MoH information for travellers arriving to New Zealand as all travellers except those listed on the countries and areas of concern under Category 2, will be required to self-isolate. Please be aware of this if you are hosting an event for both your presenters and attendees.


    Page updated 27 March 2020