Psychiatrists disappointed with decision to end telehealth item numbers

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is disappointed with the Australian Department of Health’s decision not to extend temporary COVID-19 telehealth items.

Previously, the RANZCP successfully advocated for temporary MBS COVID-19 telehealth item numbers to be extended until 30 June 2022, citing access issues for patients with complex needs and/or difficulties accessing videoconferencing. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the further extension of these temporary items would have supported continuity of care for patients, and their timely access to consultations with a psychiatrist. The items have contributed to the overall strength of healthcare system by supporting a range of vulnerable patients through a range of diverse specialist treatment options.

Since the election, these concerns have been raised by the RANZCP including President Vinay Lakra with the Minister for Health And Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP and the Department of Health.

The RANZCP remains committed to our advocacy surrounding telehealth, to ensure that the new Government delivers accessible, affordable, and equitable healthcare for patients.

We also continue to urge for the alternative solution to reinstating MBS Item 288, for patients with geographic and/or financial disadvantage. The RANZCP welcomes the Australian Labor Party’s pre-election pledge to re-instate MBS Item 288 (50% rural loading), and looks forward to working with the DoH to ensure that any decision enhances the access of vulnerable patients to a psychiatrist. 

As new details emerge, we will ensure to keep members updated via the website, Psyche and the President’s Update

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call +61 437 315 911, or email

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or

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