With the World Health Organisation declaring the Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern the Ministry of Health has established a COVID-19 resource site.
This site includes regular updates and guidance for health professionals around symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and infection control measures.
Since 30 January this year, COVID-19 has been a notifiable disease. This means that should health practitioners suspect a case of COVID-19, they should notify a medical officer.
You will already be aware that COVID-19 is an evolving situation.
The Board employees are currently working remotely.
Working remotely will likely create delays in some services provided by the secretariat, and we will be prioritising matters that present a risk to public health and safety. The Board appreciates your understanding and will be doing everything it can to keep processes running as smoothly as possible.
Client confidentiality, privacy and contact tracing:
There may be questions on how to manage client confidentiality and privacy in the event that the a psychotherapist is diagnosed with COVID-19 and contact tracing needs to be undertaken by Public Health officials, and what their responsibilities are to their clients. The Psychologist's Board has obtained legal advice on this question which the Board is sharing with psychotherapist.
That advice is that a health practitioner who has tested positive for Covid19 can disclose client or patient information to the appropriate public health body for the purpose of contact tracing or other public health measures.
If you are affected, in the first instance, the appropriate public health authority that you should contact will be Healthline (Ministry of Health) or your local DHB's public health unit.
The health authority will tell you what patient information you will need to disclose, but you must not disclose any information beyond what is requested.
This information is likely to be limited to the patient's name and contact details, and when (e.g. date/time) and for how long you were in contact with the patient. It is important that you:
(1) do not disclose patient information to any person or body other than the appropriate public health body; and
(2) do not disclose more information than is necessary to enable the health authority to take appropriate steps.
After you have contacted the public health authority, you also have an obligation, where possible, to contact the patients that you have provided information about to the authority. The potential exposure to Covid19 is something that is relevant to your obligations of open disclosure and the therapeutic relationship with the patient. By contacting the patient you will help to reduce any alarm or distress that the patient may feel if that are 'cold-called' by the public health authorities without any forewarning.
Applications for registration:
All applicants for registration should be aware that the Board will not be processing any applications from overseas-trained applicants received after 20 March 2020, until further notice.
All applications already received will continue to be processed as usual; however there may be delays.
Applicants are currently welcome to send in all documents without the certification from a Justice of the Peace. Applications are accepted via email, and please ensure that all original forms and documents are clearly scanned in colour (there are many phone apps which offer a scanning service) and attached to the email.
In lieu of passport photos, please send two copies of photo identification (i.e passport and drivers license) with your application, in addition to your birth certificate.
If there are any issues with the documents sent through, applicants may be contacted via Zoom to confirm identity.
22 March 2020: Request from Pharmacy Council to Prescribers
Our Pharmacists are under enormous pressure in responding to the requirements of COVID-19 and are needing to protect themselves at the same time as assisting patients in dispensing their medicines. Prescribers are encouraged to not issue prescriptions for periods greater than 1 month, and then fax or sent them through NZePS to the pharmacy desired by the patient.
Ministry of Health Media Release 25/03/2020
The Ministry of Health is moving to increase the capacity of the health workforce to deliver essential health services.
We are seeking expressions of interest from health and care professionals who are able and willing to work for a limited amount of time as part of the national strategic approach to managing COVID-19.
We have already been asking retired health professionals to express their interest in working within the health and disability system, and now we would also like to hear from current health workers who may be available as non-essential services are paused.
We are seeking people to work in both general and clinically specialised roles as we scale up the health and care workforce. People will be matched to roles based on their competencies, and appropriate training and oversight will be provided (where required) to ensure safe practice.
The Ministry of Health has put in place a system to nationally coordinate the matching of supply and demand. This means understanding who is available to work, and matching them to roles that need to be filled in the sector. Some of these will be contact roles, while others will be supporting services such as Healthline and contact tracing, which can be done remotely.
The Ministry of Health is partnering with Accent Health to manage this process on our behalf. For health workers, they will be collecting information about their availability, co-ordinating re-registration with the relevant regulatory board or council where required, and then supporting the process to get into employment quickly.
Employers will be able to log their workforce requests, and then people will be matched to positions. We are aware that demand may exceed supply, and we are developing a prioritisation process to manage this. This will be communicated once finalised.
If you are a health or care worker who is able to assist with the COVID-19 response please register your interest here https://tinyurl.com/covid19nz.
If you are an employer, further information will be available in the next 24 hours on how to log requests.
Please find following a link to Ministry of Health information providing 'essential services' clarity.
1. The NZ Telehealth Forum & Resource Centre has excellent guidance including on security and technical matters.
2. Allied Health Aotearoa New Zealand's best practice guideline
3. Medical Council of New Zealand https://www.mcnz.org.nz/assets/standards/d2837a2633/Statement-on-telehealthv3.pdf
4. The Australian Psychological Society has a useful link on its website: Principles for choosing videoconferencing technology.
Where to get help
Visit the Ministry for Health website for detailed information on mental health and addiction helplines and what to do in an emergency. https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/mental-health-services?
New email address for all queries about mental health and wellbeing
The Ministry of Health have set up a dedicated email address for all queries from the mental health and addiction sector during the Covid-19 response. As their personal mailboxes are inundated, they are concerned they may miss important emails.
Using the dedicated NHCC_psychosocial@health.govt.nz email address will ensure your email is triaged and followed-up. Please use this email address to contact us about challenges you are facing that you need our help with and your suggestions on what could be done to protect and improve wellbeing during the Covid-19 Response.
Please also use this e-mail to let us know about positive stories of how we are managing within the parameters of a Level 4 lockdown. These stories will inspire others and support collective learning about new ways of coping in crisis situations.