The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement to extend use of the telehealth Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers for a further six months.
According to RANZCP President-Elect, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, availability of the telehealth items has ensured ongoing access to consultation for patients and their families.
‘The level of uptake in telehealth for psychiatry services shows how greatly both patients and psychiatrists value the availability and usability of the service, as an option for mental health consultations,’ said Associate Professor Lakra.
‘Through telehealth, there have been a number of wide-ranging benefits come to the fore including increased accessibility. We know that telehealth is especially important for people with mobility issues and those living in regional, rural and remote areas and even some outer metropolitan areas.
‘The availability and flexibility of telehealth opens up many more opportunities for those who may have previously been unable to access appropriate mental health care due to a number of reasons.
‘A recent survey, conducted by the RANZCP, has demonstrated several benefits of telehealth and there is increasing need for the telehealth MBS item numbers to continue to be available longer term.
The RANZCP strongly believes the continuation of telehealth, as an addition to face-to-face consultations beyond COVID-19, will provide a significant opportunity to enrich the future of Australia’s mental health service system.
‘Today is a positive step toward providing Australian consumers and psychiatrists with the foundations of a more flexible, more adaptable mental health system and a more permanent, long-term commitment to telehealth,’ said Associate Professor Lakra.
‘We are pleased with Minister Hunt’s announcement and look forward to continued consultation on this issue as we work towards a longer-term transformation of telehealth services beyond COVID-19.’
For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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