COVID-19 – impact on FPM and ANZCA

The faculty continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and the impacts on fellows and trainees as a result of the pandemic.

Telehealth item numbers for use by specialist pain medicine physicians (19 May)

The Department of Health advised the Faculty that multidisciplinary case conference items 2946, 2949, 2954, 2958, 2972 and 2974, are enabled for telehealth under their existing item numbers.

The explanatory note attached to these items, note AN.0.58, states that the conditions that apply to these case conference items are the same as those for case conferences performed by consultant physicians (items 820 to 838). The conditions that apply to items 820 to 838, observed in explanatory note AN.0.51, state that all participants must be in communication with each other throughout the conference, either face to face, by telephone or by video link, or a combination of these. 

Pain medicine specialists are able to bill consultant physician telehealth services (91824, 91825, 91826, 91834, 91835 and 91836).

Elective surgery guidance (24 April)

The faculty has prepared guidance for fellows regarding procedures that would be considered low risk for aerosol generation and personal protective equipment consumption whilst providing high value to patients. The guidance has been prepared following the announcement that elective surgery restrictions in Australia caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be eased from 28 April. See the guidance here.

Update to MBS telehealth services (22 April)

Further to the recently announced temporary MBS telehealth items, new amendments have been announced regarding the requirement to bulk bill these services.

From 20 April 2020 specialist service providers are no longer required to bulk bill these new telehealth items.

For specialist and consultant physician item numbers and further information, please see the MBS changes fact sheet.


ANZCA statement on the use of PPE during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (9 April)

ANZCA has released a revised statement in relation to the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

This statement is intended to provide a single bi-national standard, informed by high level expert advice, to facilitate a safe, consistent and standardised approach to the use of PPEs across our two countries. It has been developed with the clear understanding that there will be situations where it will require modification to meet local epidemiological and resource circumstances. Such modifications should, as far as is reasonably possible, be guided by informed expert opinion. 

Read the statement here.

Update to MBS telehealth services (7 April)

Further to the recently announced temporary MBS telehealth items, new amendments have been announced regarding the requirement to bulk bill these services:
  • From 6 April 2020, it is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders, children under 16 years old and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. 
  • Health providers may apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for patients who do not fit the above criteria. Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs.
For specialist and consultant physician item numbers and further information, please see the MBS changes fact sheet.

Ahpra creates COVID-19 sub-register

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has created a new pandemic sub-register to fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners. Ahpra will be contacting over 40,000 practitioners who previously held general or specialist registration and left the Register of Practitioners, or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years to alert them that they will be added to this new sub-register. 

The temporary sub-register will operate on an opt-out basis with practitioners added automatically. They will not need to fill in forms or pay fees, nor meet the usual return to practice requirements. There is no obligation for anyone added to the sub-register to practise or remain on it. The pandemic sub-register is expected to be in place from 6 April. For more information visit the COVID-19 information page.


Changes to recertification requirements in New Zealand

In recognition of the difficulties doctors are likely to have accessing the usual channels and methods to undertake learning and development to meet recertification requirements, the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) has agreed to waive recertification requirements for the next 11 months. For further information please see the MCNZ website.

The ANZCA and FPM CPD Committee are considering all communications from regulatory authorities and considering how this will impact CPD participants annual and triennial requirements.​ 


ASM, FPM Symposium cancelled and face-to-face meetings suspended


On Friday 13 March, ANZCA president Dr Rod Mitchell issued a communique to announce the cancellation of the Perth Annual Scientific Meeting including the FPM Symposium in May, and the suspension of face-to-face meetings until 22 April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

The college contacted all fellows, trainees and specialist international medical graduates following a number of emergency meetings in relation to examinations, the ASM, college events, and potential impacts on training and our trainees, in particular those sitting examinations.

The college is working on minimising the impact of these changes on CPD and is carefully monitoring our exams, training and education activities.


Training and education activities


The faculty has postponed the external April long case assessments and is continuing to carefully monitor all our training and education activities. We have approached all our training units to understand how each unit is individually impacted. 

Our Training and Assessment Executive Committee have prepared advice for all trainees. This advice will be regularly updated when required.

For more information on the COVID-19 outbreak, please see the Australian Department of Health website and the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.

For further information from ANZCA, please refer to this page

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