Message from the President: Board to decide on impact of COVID-19 for the College

12 March 2020

The College is closely monitoring the changing circumstances around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its implications for the College and its members.

I would like to thank those members who have contacted the College with concerns and to seek clarification on the impact COVID-19 will have not only on College business, but also on the community and continuity of care.

Last week, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Health, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, requesting that Medicare-subsidised telehealth consultations be extended to urban areas to immediately help to safeguard the health and wellbeing of people with existing and new onset mental illness.

The College welcomes the Australian Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday of a health package to protect all Australians from COVID-19. This is being closely monitored, and the College is awaiting further information from the Government. The DoH has today released a COVID-19 Telehealth Fact Sheet, which provides some details.

The College continues to observe the situation in New Zealand and is monitoring for any change in circumstance and the Government’s response.

As a result of a range of unprecedented issues which have arisen in recent days, I have called for an extraordinary meeting of the RANZCP Board. This is scheduled for this evening, Thursday 12 March 2020.

The meeting will discuss items arising from the implications of COVID-19 for College business including travel, activities and meetings, business continuity and financial impact. This includes the feasibility of certain key College events such as Congress 2020 and the OSCEs.

The College CEO has also been in close consultation with the relevant Chairs of organising committees, education committees, and the Trainee Representative Committee, as well as the Members Advisory Council (MAC), regarding Congress 2020 and the OSCEs.

The College’s priority is to support the good health and wellbeing of its members and staff and to safeguard care for people with mental illness. The College will be guided by health departments and is aware that members are being advised by their respective health services not to travel to reduce the risk of exposure to themselves and patients, and to maintain their practice. Please take care in ensuring appropriate steps are undertaken to protect yourself, loved ones and colleagues.

I will be in contact in the coming days with further advice on the outcomes of the Board Meeting.

I also encourage members to monitor the News Section on the College website, Twitter, and LinkedIn for additional updates.