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: ACC Alert Level 2 Update

Sent on 13 May 2020 to all PNZ members

With the country moving to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 on 14 May, the message below was sent from ACC yesterday evening notifying physiotherapists that “during level 2, face-to-face treatment (video or in-person consultation) is supported”.

Thanks again to everyone across PNZ who has worked to influence this decision. Other ACC provider COVID-19 email updates are available on the ACC website.

ACC COVID-19 update 12 May: Alert Level 2 information

Kia  ora,

We can now prepare for the move to Alert Level 2, following the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday. Many of you may have questions in relation to the provision of Telehealth services at Alert Level 2 and I hope today’s message provides some assurance.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our clients and for ensuring their health and safety remains a top priority.

Nāku noa, nā

Jade Walker-Clark

Head of Provider Service Delivery

Moving to Alert Level 2 on 14 May 2020

We continue to take guidance for the provision of Telehealth solutions from the Ministry of Health and regulating national bodies as we transition through COVID-19 alert levels. The current advice is that Telehealth is the default wherever possible. Telehealth resources and support are available on the NZ Telehealth Leadership Group’s website.

Our focus remains on ensuring ACC clients have access to safe, appropriate, and high-quality injury support and recovery services. Alert Level 2 will be about starting the move back to a ‘normal’ way of operating, while maintaining physical distance and vigilance with infection control precautions. Telehealth will remain a preferred option for consultations during alert level 2, especially for at risk clients.

During level 2, face-to-face treatment (video or in-person consultation) is supported. Clinicians will continue to have the ability to obtain verbal consent for Telehealth consultations and will now have the option of obtaining verbal consent for in-person consultation. This will minimise infection risk by avoiding clients having to physically sign an ACC45. Verbal consent will need to be clearly recorded in the clinical notes.

We will review Telehealth and the issue of verbal consent if there are any changes to requirements during Alert Level 2.

Up-to-date information on our response to COVID-19 may be found on our website.

Changes at Alert Level 2

There is only one substantive change to delivery of ACC service in the move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2: on Thursday, 14 May 2020, at 12:01am, the standard 14-day time-off-work allocation will be reintroduced to align with Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Vocational Medical Services service delivery.


Subject: COVID Alert Level 2 announcement

Sent on 11 May 2020 to all PNZ members

Moving to Alert level 2

The Government has announced that the country will move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 from Thursday 14th May. The following outlines information for physiotherapists operating at Alert Level 2, including Ministry of Health guidelines and processes for conducting in-person appointments.

Alert Level 2 Guidelines

In preparation for the move to Alert Level 2, PNZ has been working with Government agencies including the Ministry of Health (MoH), ACC and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. MoH Alert Level 2 guidance, available here.

MoH are requesting that all health services think twice about face to face contact. Telehealth remains the preferred treatment option. This should not prohibit face to face treatments where this is clinically required.

Information from GPs suggests they expect half of appointments will still be telehealth.

Before a face-to-face appointment the following processes need to be in place:

  • Triaging for telehealth as an option
  • Screening for COVID-19 symptoms prior to in-person appointments.
  • Physical distancing measures.
  • Infection prevention control measures including PPE where required.

Specific processes for seeing patients in Alert Level 2 are on the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand website. These identify the specific measures physiotherapy practices are required to take for clinic appointments.

Please remember that until 14 May the country remains in Alert Level 3. Ministry of Health information for Alert Level 3 identifies that most physiotherapy services are online or over the phone, with some face-to-face services provided for urgent appointments. Guidelines regarding urgent appointments are available here.

Beyond Alert Level 2

An outline of the COVID-19 Alert System is available at covid19.govt.nz. PNZ is in ongoing contact with the Government about funding through Alert Level 2 and beyond. This includes discussion with ACC regarding telehealth rates, which we’ve asked to be maintained, and a submission to the COVID-19 Epidemic Response Committee highlighting the impact on physiotherapy businesses and reminding MPs about the importance of our profession within primary healthcare. We will have a review of the current alert level in two more weeks.

Work has also now started on guidelines for Alert Level 1, so that we are again ready for when the Government announces further movement.

Thank you for your support and take care.

Nga mihi nui

Sandra Kirby

CEO


Subject: COVID-19 Alert Level 2 guidance

Sent on 8 May 2020 to all PNZ members

Kia  ora,

The long awaited guidance from the Ministry of Health for health and disability sector operations under Alert Level 2 was released this afternoon. It can be found on our website in the COVID-19 updates.

Note this guidance applies across all of the allied health sector.

Alert Level 2 advice for physiotherapy

PNZ has been working with the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (the Board) and the Ministry of Health to develop physiotherapy specific guidelines. You should have received an email from the Board this evening with this information which will also be on their website

Note that the emphasis remains on telehealth at Alert Level 2. We are awaiting an ACC decision on funding telehealth through the continued de-escalation (and beyond). We will share this decision as soon as we have it.

But we remain in Alert Level 3 for now

Please remember that until we hear the announcement from the Prime Minister next week the country remains in Alert Level 3. Ministry of Health information for Alert Level 3 identifies that most physiotherapy services are online or over the phone, with some face-to-face services provided for urgent appointments. Guidelines regarding urgent appointments are available here.

Thanks again for your committment to the profession and the people you care for over the last six weeks. We at PNZ have been heartened by the messages of support as we work with you to promote physiotherapy.

Expect more information as soon as we know more about Alert Level 2.

Nga mihi

Sandra


Subject: ACC Alert Level 3 telehealth

Sent on 24 April 2020 to all PNZ members

An email was sent from ACC to physiotherapists yesterday evening notifying recipients that, given the guidance issued by the Ministry of Health this week, an extension of the telehealth provisions already made by ACC will apply to COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

Thank you to everyone across PNZ and the profession who have helped influence this decision. Please read the full email below and continue to refer to the ACC website for provider COVID-19 email updates.

Kia  ora,

We have information to share from the Ministry of Health to guide health and disability sector operations within Alert Level 3. Fundamentally, the Ministry’s advice means we will see little change from the Level 4 response. With this new guidance, we do not anticipate a material difference in the provision of services when moving from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.

We appreciate your commitment to our clients in these unusual times, and your willingness to continue to adapt to ensure we provide care where and when it’s needed.

Ngā  mihi  nui,

Jade Walker-Clark
Head of Provider Service Delivery

Alert Level 3 advice for the health and disability sector 

Yesterday the Ministry of Health confirmed that delivery of services by the health and disability sector will see minimal change in the move from Alert Level 4 to Level 3.

At Alert Level 3 the following guidance from the Ministry remains:

Virtual appointments should be provided where possible and is the preferred method of service delivery. Face-to-face appointments may be provided for urgent care only so long as professionals can take appropriate measures to manage public health. 

‘Urgent care’ for community allied health professionals is defined as:

  • a condition which is life or limb threatening
  • treatment required to maintain the basic necessities of life
  • treatment that cannot be delayed or carried out remotely without risk of significant harm or permanent and/or significant disability
  • treatment which cannot be delivered by a service which is currently operating or by health professionals that are already in contact with the patient.

If you do need to see a patient face to face, please do the following:

  • Practice good infection prevention control procedures.
  • Use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Keep accurate documentation of the appointment to aid contact tracing if required.
  • Let your Responsible Authority know that you are treating a patient face to face.

More information is available on the Ministry of Health website.

Moving from Alert Level 4

ACC has enabled providers to deliver services differently and relaxed some restrictions during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 response period. Given the guidance issued by Ministry of Health yesterday, the extension of Telehealth provisions already made by ACC will also apply to Alert Level 3.

We moved quickly over the past few weeks to ensure providers were enabled to adopt more flexible service delivery models, where clinically appropriate by enabling;

  • Telehealth consultations
  • Remote lodgement (ACC45)
  • Increase in time of work (ACC18)
  • Increase in DNA allowance
  • Reduced contractual compliance

For information on the provision of Telehealth services for ACC’s clients, please visit our website.


Subject: COVID-19 update

Sent on 22 April 2020 to all PNZ members

Following the Government announcement that the country will be at Alert Level 3 from Tuesday 28 April, PNZ is receiving enquiries about what this will look like for physiotherapists particularly regarding whether businesses will be open. Please find information below on COVID-19 Alert Level 3 as well as related resources including:

  • Government Updates
  • Telehealth Guidelines
  • Business Support Funding

Alert Level 3

Alert Level 3 advice on covid19.govt.nz (current 22 April 2020) identifies that businesses cannot offer services that involve face-to-face contact. The Ministry of Health guidance for all health services, including physiotherapists, is now available here. The Ministry of Health (MoH) expectation is that most physiotherapy, and other allied health, services will continue to be mainly online or over the phone. Some face-to-face physiotherapy services may be provided for urgent appointments only, so long as professionals can take appropriate measures to manage public health risks. We are working on guidance for physiotherapists regarding urgent appointments and this will come through in an email from the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand as soon as it is complete. PNZ will also add this to our COVID-19 web page.

We are in continuing discussions with ACC regarding funding for services in Alert Level 3. Our position is that while there is restricted face-to-face contact telehealth funding needs to be maintained at Alert Level 4 rates. ACC have also been waiting for the MoH guidance. Again, we will share the decision about funding as soon as we can. PNZ continues to work with MoH, ACC and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand regarding physiotherapy through the alert level system. This includes advocating strongly for the profession to provide services to the public. We are committed to sharing information with members as quickly as possible, but the information needs to be from official sources and agreed so we can ensure you get the right information.

Government Updates

Please refer to the covid19.govt.nz website for Government information and be aware of ACC provider updates and emails. The covid19.govt.nz website includes resources for looking after mental wellbeing to help take care of yourself, family, colleagues and employees at this time. business.govt.nz is the Government’s central resource for COVID-19 business information including guidelines for all businesses through the Government alert levels, a wage subsidy eligibility tool, information on business finance support and tailored advice for your business.

Telehealth Guidelines

In addition to the marketing campaign launched this week to let the public know your physio can still see you online, PNZ has collated resources to help members deliver services through telehealth. Available at pnz.org.nz this includes key documents, links and information on BMS insurance cover.

Business Support Funding 

PNZ's employment support partner, Humankind, have let us know privately held organisations with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for funding to support HR to the value of $2,500 under the Regional Business Partner Network.

Over the past few weeks Humankind have been working with organisations to interpret how the wage subsidies apply while also ensuring employers are making the right decisions for their workforce. This includes running a webinar for PNZ members. They’re also supporting businesses through the challenges of leading remote teams and adapting to new ways of working as well as focusing on maintaining a great culture. For more about their services go to humanityatwork.nz.

To apply for this funding and HR support, go to regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz to register. A Growth Advisor will then contact you to assess your eligibility and approve your application. Once approved, you’ll need to log in and match your voucher to the Humankind event titled “COVID-19 Business Support”. Lastly, email enquiries@humankind.nz.

Take care and thank you again for your support.


Subject: telehealth campaign

Sent on 17 April 2020 to all PNZ members

YOUR PHYSIO CALL STILL SEE YOU ONLINE

With the country currently moving through COVID-19 alert levels, many physiotherapists are only available to see patients through telehealth. While practices may be set-up for this, for much of the public telehealth is a new way to engage with their physio that they may not know is available.

To address this PNZ is running a campaign to increase public awareness that their physio can still see them through telehealth. The campaign focuses on a clear and consistent message targeted at new and existing patients – your physio can still see you online.

PNZ marketing activity, both paid and through our own social media accounts, will drive the public to physio.org.nz where they can Find a Physio. Members are encouraged to add their own information, such as areas of expertise, to the campaign material to drive people to their practice.

Campaign material – available in different sizes for social media

Channels

PNZ is using paid media channels to get this message out including social platforms, website advertising, radio and Google search. We’re also posting this material on the PNZ Facebook and Twitter accounts – so please look out for our posts and share with your networks. In addition, a media release has been issued supporting the message that your physio can still see you online particularly as people take on new activities and ways of working.

Support the campaign

The campaign images are available HERE formatted to share through your social accounts. When using the material feel free to tag PNZ (Facebook: @PhysiotherapyNZ, Twitter: @PhysioNZ). We’ll then share your posts to reach more people. If you’d like access to any of the campaign images for your own paid advertising please contact pnz@physiotherapy.org.nz.

Thank you for your support and take care.


Subject: COVID-19 information for physiotherapy students

Sent on 15 April 2020 to PNZ student members

Kia ora tatou

Hasn’t the year turned on its head? In the last couple of months the PNZ team met with groups of physio students talking about the year ahead and we all assumed we knew the pattern of 2020. COVID-19 was in the news affecting China but the spread and the response have been unprecedented. Going viral in every sense of the term.

Much of our focus over the past weeks has been on our PNZ members working in the private sector where services were cut off very quickly. However we are also aware that for you in training the rapid cut in clinical placements for fourth year students and lectures for other years makes the future look hazy. Please do let us know how you are getting on and what impact the government sanctions are having for you – short and long term.

WCPT seeks your experiences over COVID-19 disruption

World Physiotherapy (WCPT), our global association, is collaborating with ENPHE (European Network of Physiotherapy in Higher Education), ACAPT (The American Council of Academic Physical Therapy) and CLADEFK (Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo de la Fisioterapia/Kinesiologia) to gather information about the impact of COVID-19 outbreak in physiotherapy entry-level education. This is to learn from everyone about the challenges, opportunities and alternative strategies being used and considered. The results will be collated and shared to highlight experiences and solutions from different perspectives and contexts.

The three New Zealand Schools of Physiotherapy have been sent a survey to complete by 18 April. WCPT is interested to hear your experience as undergraduate students and we encourage you to complete this survey HERE. Apologies for the short response time but we are trying to respond to the rapidly evolving situation.

The history and future of physio
Dr Dave Nicholls, from AUT, wrote a post for history.physio recently that reminded me of the significant role physiotherapy has played as part of recovery from polio epidemics, the 1918 flu epidemic and World War 1. He says “firstly, we should remember that physiotherapy exists as a profession because it was able to respond to some of history’s cataclysmic moments. How our foremothers and forefathers responded shaped the way we think and practice today.” COVID-19 will shape the profession – and you will be part of that shaping.

Finally, take care and thank you for your ongoing commitment to our profession.


Subject: COVID-19 resources incl. from the PNZ Cardio-Respiratory SIG

Sent on 7 April 2020 to all PNZ members

As we approach the end of our second week in Alert Level 4, please find links below to a number of COVID-19 resources and updates from across the profession. This includes:

  • Cardio-Respiratory SIG resources
  • Older Adult Super Seven Strength and Balance Exercises
  • Information about the COVID-19 Alert System
  • Access to a recording of the Humankind employer webinar
  • A call to join the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand

PNZ continues to work with Government agencies including ACC and the Ministry of Health to advocate for members through the COVID-19 Alert System. We will also keep updating information on our webpages for COVID-19 resources and business information.

Cardio-Respiratory SIG Resources

The PNZ Cardio-Respiratory Special Interest Group (CRSIG) have provided a number of COVID-19 resources for all physiotherapists and the message below. These resources are available at pnz.org.nz and include Physiotherapy in COVID-19 management guidelines, open access online cardio-respiratory physiotherapy courses and New Zealand specific COVID-19 resources. Many thanks to the CRSIG for providing access to this information.

Kia ora,

As we wait to see how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out in New Zealand, we have an opportunity to ensure we are ready to help out if needed, should we be willing and able to. Being willing is, of course, determined by all manner of considerations, and is a hugely personal decision. Being able requires us to have the necessary skills to be competent in either an acute care or rehabilitation capacity. If you have a respiratory background and/or previous ICU experience and are considering helping out and feel you would benefit from upskilling or refreshing your skills here is a selection of relevant information collated by the Cardio-Respiratory Special Interest Group.

Ngā mihi

Cardio-Respiratory Special Interest Group Committee

Older Adult Super Seven Strength and Balance Exercises

In response to COVID-19, a team of DHB clinical leaders identified a need for an exercise programme designed to be done safely at home for older adults known to community services. Collated by Liz Binns and Denise Taylor (AUT University), with input from Ricky Bell (Waikato Institute of Technology), John Parsons (The University of Auckland) and a number of DHB colleagues, the Super Seven Strength and Balance Exercises are available here.

COVID-19 Alert System

With the Government review of Alert Level 4 approaching, PNZ is receiving questions about what happens at Alert Level 3. At this stage we think businesses will not be able to open in Alert Level 3. Government advice available at covid19.govt.nz (updated 6 April 2020) identifies the Alert Level 3 measures below. Please note the last two points.

  • travel in areas with clusters or community transmission limited
  • affected educational facilities closed
  • mass gatherings cancelled
  • public venues closed (eg libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks)
  • alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses should close
  • non face-to-face primary care consultations
  • non acute (elective) services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff reprioritised.

While these measures could be applied regionally or nationally, given the spread of clusters at present we would anticipate this to be national. At Alert Level 3 non-essential businesses are still closed, nor are face-face consultations in primary care permitted. PNZ has been told there may be reviews of essential services when the alert level drops but for business planning purposes you are probably better to assume re-opening will be possible at Level 2, and even that comes with restrictions around client numbers.

Employer Webinar

PNZ's employment support partner, Humankind, hosted a webinar for members on 1 April, outlining employer obligations and options during COVID-19. A recording of the webinar is available here and links to resources discussed below.

Call to join the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand

The Ministry of Health is currently seeking applications/nominations to join the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. With this call occurring while the country is in Alert Level 4, applications are now open until 21 April 2020. If interested please read more here.


Subject: Increased Telehealth rates for physiotherapists

Sent on 3 April 2020 to all PNZ members

ACC emailed physiotherapists yesterday evening notifying the profession they have increased telehealth rates for allied health providers including physiotherapists. This is an excellent decision and PNZ would like to thank all our members who helped advocate for this increase. Please read part of the message from ACC below. The full ACC email is available here on their website.

“We are increasing Telehealth rates for allied health providers approved to deliver Telehealth services for as long as we remain at COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and this will be reviewed as alert levels change. Invoices for these services, from 20 March 2020, will be back paid using the updated rates. See important information about this below.

  1. Telehealth rates will be set at the equivalent in-person rates for providers working under the Physiotherapy Services Contract and Hand Therapy Contract.
  2. Telehealth rates for speech & language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists working under the Cost of Treatment Regulations have been increased based on the initial and follow-up rates under the Physiotherapy Services Contract. The difference in rates reflects the additional compliance requirements under contracts. Telehealth is not payable under the Cost of Treatment Regulations, so these payments are made as non-contracted services.

The increased rates acknowledge:

  • the extra time needed for providers and clients to adapt to the new way of working
  • the increased time to undertake a subjective assessment of a client, as components of the objective assessment are unable to be completed
  • the needs of complex patients.

Thank you to those getting in touch about your experiences of Telehealth and different ways of working under COVID-19. We hear that many of you are adjusting well to the use of Telehealth.

For further information regarding ACC requirements please refer to our website.

Back payment of Telehealth services
The new rates will apply for all services provided from 20 March 2020.

For vendors who have already invoiced ACC for Telehealth services provided from 20 March 2020, please re-submit these at the new rate when these are available through your PMS system.

  • Services invoiced at the old rates have been declined and reversals will be undertaken for those services already released for payment.

Vendors yet to submit invoices may submit these at the new rates when these are available through your PMS system."


Subject: COVID-19 physiotherapists in DHBs

Sent on 2 April 2020 to PNZ members identifying a DHB as their employer

With us all currently in Alert Level 4, we are very conscious that there are over 600 PNZ members working in DHBs around the country. Alongside the rest of New Zealand we are incredibly proud of your frontline work and the personal impact of being a frontline worker. PNZ has been in touch with the Ministry of Health and have had messages from some of you regarding the issues that are specific to you in your situation. We’re aware each DHB will be taking their own precautions and have protocols for you to follow.

PNZ has COVID-19 web pages with information for the profession and links to Government resources as well as updates about who we are working with on your behalf and what we are strongly advocating for. These resources are available for all physiotherapists at pnz.org.nz. Our thoughts are with members at this time and we’re focussed on working for you through COVID-19.

As we come out of the current pandemic it will be important to record and share some of our experiences so we can learn what worked and what we could change for any future events. Your experiences will be particularly valuable. If you would like to share this with PNZ members please email physiotherapy@pnz.org.nz.

PPE for allied health staff

We have heard a few concerns from physiotherapists that allocation of PPE has been a challenge. One example is a physiotherapist being the only person not allocated PPE in an MDT with a patient with a respiratory condition. The Ministry of Health have told us there is sufficient PPE in the country, and they are expecting better distribution this week. They have also updated the guidelines for use of PPE. If you have not seen this, it is here

Your personal planning

PNZ was sent the following information from an anaesthetist, which you may have already seen. Being in the DHBs you are the members most likely to be in this situation.

Background: several of my colleagues were involved in looking after a patient in theatre who, unknown to anybody at the time, was actually on the MoH list of those suspected and was meant to be in strict self-isolation, but broke the rules, landing in hospital by accident. Here is some specific advice that these colleagues would like to share, so that if YOU, as a part of the early contact identification, are called by Occ Health, MoH, etc informing you that YOU have been unwittingly exposed to a suspected case, you are better prepared.

  1. Have a bag packed (toothbrush, phone charger, medication you take regularly, etc). That bag is to stay in the car that you take to work (and I think we are all taking the same car to work now, yes?).
  2. This is a very unsettling experience, so let’s recognise this and process it now, so that the psychological impact is hopefully less when it actually happens, or at least not underestimated.
  3. Have a plan in your head of where YOU will go if/when you have to isolate yourself SEPARATE from your family / current bubble.
  4. Talk to your department/practice: they need to know who does and who does not have places to go, they may want to develop a list of immediate but not necessarily long term options for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
  5. When you are called it may be DAYS after you dealt with that patient, you won’t remember the details, so:
    start documenting all your procedures and details, including PPE worn.
  6. Lastly, but most importantly: Talk to your bubble tonight re: YOUR steps if this happens to you. There are two scenarios:
    A: you have to self-isolate AWAY from your bubble
    B: you have to self-isolate WITH your bubble (you may have unwittingly exposed them)
    e.g. for me personally that means always having staples + baby formula in the house for the next 2 weeks, so that if I am to self-isolate from NOW, I can do it in my bubble if need be; and if my bubble is safe from me, they can bring me the supplies and leave them outside the door.

If you happen to be the designated person in charge of the departmental phone tree or similar for any direct information dissemination (remember, group WhatsApp will not be suitable for personal health info communication), please tell the staff members whom you are ringing that you will contact the others involved. In other words if you are a key person in a plan, make sure you tell those isolated what the plan is.

Thank you

From all of the team across PNZ, thank you for your ongoing commitment to the profession and support at this time. We appreciate that your experience is different to the community-based physiotherapists. For some of you the work is more intense and there are others who are redeployed knowing your normal work is going untended. Each of these situations are stressful.

Please take care of yourselves and your families as you care for our communities.


Subject: PNZ Monthly Email - April 2020

Sent on 2 April 2020 to all PNZ members

The information below on COVID-19 was sent in the April 2020 PNZ Monthly Email.

COVID-19 Advocating For Members

PNZ is in ongoing conversations with Government agencies including ACC and the Ministry of Health (MoH) as well as the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ) regarding COVID-19.

Yesterday we gained agreement from ACC to accept telephone as a method of telehealth where video platforms are not available. This means all forms of telehealth consultations for ACC related matters that meet PBNZ guidelines around use of telehealth during COVID-19 will now be funded.

Areas we are still advocating for are the telehealth rates for primary care (cost of treatment regulations, physiotherapy contract and hand therapy contract). This is critical for us. ACC modelling says telehealth consultations are generally shorter than face-to-face consultations and therefore the prices for all primary care funding is based on shorter consultation times. We continue to argue that this is not the member experience. ACC tell us they have physiotherapy providers who say they have the rates “about right”. This is contrary to what we are hearing.

Physiotherapy practice audits are currently suspended during the Alert Level 4. We have recommended an extension of this moratorium to six months, given that it will take time for businesses to recover from the current shut down.

Please keep across ACC COVID-19 advice and updates here on their website.

There have also been lengthy discussions with the Ministry of Health (MoH) on essential services and we’ll continue to advocate on this. MoH essential services are listed here. We have sought Ministry support for efforts to ensure the whole of the primary care sector is assured of business sustainability following the recent announcement of additional funding for GPs.

Thanks again for supporting our advocacy and PNZ’s united voice for the profession.

COVID-19 Updates

While we’re in Alert Level 4, work continues across PNZ (albeit remotely, like much of the country) to provide members with up-to-date resources, information and advocacy. Our COVID-19 web pages have information for the profession and links to Government resources as well as updates about who we are working with on your behalf and what we are strongly advocating for. These resources are available for all physiotherapists at pnz.org.nz. Our thoughts are with members at this time and we’re focussed on working for you through COVID-19.

COVID-19 Business Information

The PNZ website has a COVID-19 Business Information and FAQs page with updated business information, including links to the Government economic response package and answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Our people and culture partners Humankind hosted a fully-booked webinar on 1 April with advice around obligations and options for employers during COVID-19. A recording of the webinar will soon be available at pnz.org.nz, with further webinars to come.

Thank You

From all of the team across PNZ, thank you for your ongoing commitment to the profession and support at this time. We appreciate everyone who has contacted PNZ Office over the past few weeks, including your input into our advocacy and patience as we’ve worked through queries. Please take care of yourselves, your families and communities.


Subject: Employment Support Webinar – please email to register

Sent on 30 March 2020 to PNZ business contacts

With New Zealand now at Alert Level 4, there are implications for employers and business leaders who are having to consider the impact of COVID-19.

To help you navigate through these challenging times Physiotherapy New Zealand has partnered with people and culture consultants Humankind, to provide members with some clarity and guidance around your obligations and options in relation to your people. This may be particularly useful for members who manage private practices that are not on the Government essential services list.

Humankind will host a webinar at 1pm on Wednesday 1 April, facilitated by Charlotte Bates, Employment Relations Director. In this webinar, Charlotte will outline your employer obligations during COVID-19 and the options available to you during this time, as well as addressing any specific queries you may have.

This webinar is provided to you by Physiotherapy New Zealand at no cost.

Please register by emailing louise@humankind.nz

and a link to the webinar (via Zoom) will be emailed to you. This webinar is limited to 100 participants.

Any questions you’d like addressed during the session can be sent to louise@humankind.nz with PNZ Webinar in the email subject line by 12pm on Tuesday 31 March.


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 13 May 2020