Message from Dr Anne-marie Boxall
This year has kicked off as busy as ever. Our recent efforts have been focusing on preparing for the new Government and implementing its election commitments.
This year I have enjoyed having greater engagement with the allied health sector through our new Industry Reference Group. You can read more about the group below.
I am also introducing a new segment to the newsletter where we highlight the great work that allied health professionals are doing every day. This newsletter features an interview between Deputy Rural Health Commissioner Faye McMillan and physiotherapist Dan Searle.
Interview with physiotherapist Dan Searle
Recently, Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner Faye McMillan sat down for an interview with rural physiotherapist, Dan Searle. In this interview we learn about what led Dan to become a physiotherapist, his unique experiences as a physiotherapist and rural allied health professional, and how he feels the COVID-19 pandemic has affected his work and the broader allied health community.
Support for allied health professionals, students, and researchers
New Medicare Benefits Schedule items allow allied health professionals to participate in case conferences
Six new MBS items for allied health case conferencing have been live since 1 November 2021. They are intended to increase uptake of multidisciplinary case conferences, improve care coordination, and support the outcomes that matter most to patients and their families.
Between the launch in November 2021 and January 2022, $37,766 has been contributed to allied health case conferencing services.
For more information on the new items, who is eligible, and how they can be accessed, there is a dedicated fact sheet on the MBS Online webpage. The full item descriptors are available on the MBS Online website at www.mbsonline.gov.au. You can also subscribe to future MBS updates by visiting MBS Online and clicking ‘Subscribe’.
Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program
The Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program supports 21 universities, forming a national network of 19 Rural Clinical Schools, 17 university departments of rural health (UDRH), and 26 Regional Training Hubs. The RHMT program aims to improve the recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural and remote Australia, including allied health.
Through the RHMT Program Expansion, several allied health focussed projects are being implemented through the 2020 Budget Measure. They include:
- A new UDRH based in Emerald, Queensland managed by James Cook University.
- Six projects in partnership with a UDRH to increase training activity and three projects for student accommodation (Modified Monash Model 3-7 regions).
- Five projects in aged care settings for teaching spaces and student accommodation.
- A feasibility study to find the best approach to increase dental and oral health training in regional locations. Findings from the feasibility study will be available in the second half of 2022.
Initiatives to support access to allied health services
Allied Health in Aged Care – new AN-ACC funding model
The Department of Health has developed information to assist the aged care sector to prepare for the new AN-ACC funding model to commence 1 October 2022. To learn more about allied health services under AN-ACC please view the fact sheet How allied health care is supported under AN-ACC. Further information can also be found on the Department of Health website.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031 and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031 (Health Plan) was released on 15 December 2021 with the involvement of key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives. It sets the overarching policy framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing over the next 10 years.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031 (Workforce Plan) was released on 7 March 2022. It sets out an ambitious yet achievable target and plans to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equally represented alongside non-Indigenous workers across the health sector by 2031.
The Health and Workforce Plans aim to ensure that the whole health system is accountable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They do this by embedding the Priority Reforms of the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap, including working in genuine partnership, prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, and seeking to ensure mainstream services are culturally safe, responsive, and free from racism.
The Health and Workforce Plans take a strengths-based and prevention-focused approach. They recognise the vital role that allied health plays in the delivery of holistic and person-centred care to improve health outcomes and achieve health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Department of Health will be working with state and territory governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts to develop governance, implementation, and accountability mechanisms for the Health and Workforce Plans in 2022.
For more information, visit www.health.gov.au using the search terms ‘Aboriginal health plan’ or ‘Aboriginal workforce plan’.
National Disability Insurance Scheme National Workforce Plan: 2021–2025
The Department of Social Services has established the Allied Health Policy Roundtable (the Roundtable) to bring together industry and government to promote the growth of the Allied Health workforce in the care and support sector. The Roundtable includes representatives from Allied Health Professions Australia, Australian Council of Deans of Health Sciences, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health, Universities Australia, Boosting the Local Care Workforce, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Services.
The Government has committed to developing a comprehensive National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Workforce Strategy (the Strategy), including ensuring appropriate supports are provided for participants with complex needs.
The Roundtable will continue as an important forum for consultation on Allied Health workforce matters as the Strategy is developed, and will report to the Department of Health’s Allied Health Industry Reference Group.
The first Roundtable was held on 10 February 2022 and discussed policy ideas to increase successful Allied Health student placements in the sector. Further Roundtable sessions will explore ongoing Allied Health workforce challenges within the disability sector.
National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability
The National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability (the roadmap) aims to address serious health inequities faced by people with intellectual disability. It outlines how we can create a health system where people with intellectual disability are valued, respected, and have access to high quality, timely and comprehensive health care. The roadmap can be accessed online.
There are approximately 450,000 people with intellectual disability in Australia. Compared with the general population, people with intellectual disability experience:
- more than twice the rate of avoidable deaths
- twice the rate of emergency department and hospital admissions
- substantially higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, and
- significantly lower rates of preventive healthcare.
A key objective of the roadmap is to support health professionals, including allied health professionals, to deliver quality care for people with intellectual disability.
Primary Care Enhancement Program (PCEP) for People with Intellectual Disability
The Primary Care Enhancement Program (PCEP) is a $6.6 million pilot project under the Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability. The PCEP is being delivered in 4 Primary Health Network (PHN) regions. The PCEP will:
- through training and resources, provide greater support for General Practitioners (GPs) and other health professionals to provide more effective care to people with intellectual disability; and
- give people with intellectual disability better access to appropriate, quality health services and resources that meet their needs.
Health Professionals who work in one of the four Primary Health Network (PHN) regions below are eligible to access free case-based training during the next 18 months. The training is being delivered via online and face-to-face formats and co-facilitated by an expert clinician and a person with intellectual disability. The training includes a module that is tailored to Allied Health Professionals. For details about timing and access, please contact:
- Central and Eastern Sydney
- Please email: email@example.com
- Western Victoria
- Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast
- Please email: email@example.com
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Telehealth service arrangements
Permanent telehealth arrangements were introduced on 1 January 2022.
DVA telehealth arrangements for general practitioners and medical specialists mirror the MBS. However, DVA telehealth arrangements for allied health care are distinct from the MBS and are supported by a set of principles which seek to balance flexibility of access to treatment with ensuring services delivered by telehealth are safe, clinically effective, and provide high value health care.
Under permanent telehealth arrangements, health care services can only be provided if the full service can be delivered safely and in accordance with all relevant professional standards and clinical guidelines. In addition, all DVA funded health care services must be delivered in accordance with the relevant provider notes and fee schedules.
Information on the following is available for healthcare providers on the DVA website.
Engagements with the allied health sector
Allied Health Industry Reference Group established
The Allied Health Industry Reference Group (AHIRG) was established as a forum for sharing information and discussing national issues relating to allied health. The AHIRG supports the Chief Allied Health Officer (CAHO) by providing regular opportunities to hear from the allied health sector about national allied health policies, programs, and strategic issues. The AHIRG also allows for the CAHO to share information about the Government’s allied health work program.
The first meeting of the AHIRG was held on 1 March 2022 and focused on research and research opportunities in the allied health sector. The second meeting of the AHIRG was held on 1 June 2022 and focused on allied health data and workforce planning.
Outcomes from the meetings will be published on the Department’s website under Allied health.
An Allied Health Implementation Liaison Group (ILG) has been established to support the implementation of the MBS Review Taskforce recommendations on Allied Health MBS items. These include changes to the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Eligible Disabilities items (currently Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder and Disability Services), which will be implemented on 1 March 2023 (details on this can be found in issue two of the newsletter).
The ILG includes independent experts, representatives of professional organisations, practising clinicians, and consumer representatives. The ILG will have their first meeting in late June.
The ILG will also help develop communication strategies and education materials. For updates on the MBS Review, ILG, and implementation you can subscribe to the MBS Reviews Newsletter here.
Physiotherapy Data Capacity and Capability Project
As part of its work on Primary Health Care Data Collection, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is developing a set of common, core data items. These data items will eventually be rolled out across allied health professions to support national level data analytics and reporting. A potential set of core data items was developed with a small group of physiotherapists. The core data model was tested in March 2022, as part of a demonstration phase in collaboration with the physiotherapy sector. Evaluation of responses showed that insufficient information is currently captured to progress to the next stages of the Physiotherapy data capacity and capability project at this time. Methods and findings from the physiotherapy project will be applied across a mix of allied health professions to understand the digital landscape and generalisability of the draft core data set. Engagement across allied health professions will ensure wide representation in the development and refinement of the primary health care data model, allied health core data set and broader information system.
If you have any queries with regards to this project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.