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.
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:
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.
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.
5. ACC Telepsychology-treatment-guidelines https://www.acc.co.nz/assets/provider/telepsychology-treatment-guidelines.pdf
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.
Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre.
As part of the NRHCC (Northern Regional Health Coordination Centre) response to Covid-19, NRHCC have been tasked with setting up pools of potentially available mental health workforce. We have developed a specific mental health online portal for registration for short term assignments and employment.
He Paiaka Totara Peer Supervision for Māori Allied Health Professionals
He Paiaka is a collective of Māori psychologists, offering support within the current COVID-19 environment. They are now able to provide peer supervision for Māori health professionals (or health professional students) who are working in front-line services and belong to registered affiliated bodies. There will be no charge. It is intended to be in place while Aotearoa is in Alert 3 or 4 status. If you or other allied health practitioner are interested, please email Lisa Stewart for further details at email@example.com
With the support of the Ministry of Health, Melon has launched a web based platform which has psychosocial resources, peer support and self-care tools to help people struggling with anxiety or loneliness during the lockdown period and beyond. They also have daily live webinars at 10am. This may be of help to practitioners and clients.
Ministry of Health Policy:
Essential worker designation for students completing training placements. Click here to download the document.
1737 Help line
More Kiwis are calling 1737, in response to COVID-19, and more mental health professionals are needed to support the service.
Please click here to find out more here to download the document.
Interested people should email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process and get more information.
Free HR advice and services - Humankind
The New Zealand Government recognises professional HR support is critical for many organisations to survive in this current environment. If you are a privately held organisation with fewer than 50 employees, you may be eligible, under the Regional Business Partner Network, for funding to support your HR needs during this time, to the value of $2,500.
Humankind are a team of people and culture / employment relations specialists. Over the past few weeks, they have been working with organisations to interpret how the wage subsidies apply while also ensuring employers are making the right decisions for their workforce. Humankind is also supporting businesses to work through the challenges of leading remote working teams and adapting to new ways of working as well as focusing on maintaining the great culture they have created for their teams.
Humankind are an accredited HR services provider through the Regional Business Partner Network, and can support you with any complex matter or advice needed which may fall outside the membership service. This could mean navigating a particularly tricky employment matter or guiding you through a restructure process.
If you want to see more about the services provided by Humankind, head to www.humanityatwork.nz
To find out if you are eligible for this funding email email@example.com.
Ministry of Health Statement on scopes of practice, competence, and responding to COVID-19: The Ministry of Health's statement on scopes of practice, competence and responding to COVID-19 Click here to download the document.
All District Health Boards - Protecting Vulnerable DHB Staff During COVID-19 - Guide for People Leaders and Line Managers Click here to download the document.
All District Health Boards - DBH Occupational Health Assessment Tool for Vulnerable Workers Click here to download the document.
Allied health communication - moving to level 1 Click here to download the document.