Changes to COVID-19 Settings Announcement and COVID-19 - Guidance for Primary Care - Model of Care funding from 1 October 2023
Kia ora koutou Colleagues,
Recently the Prime Minister announced changes to New Zealand's COVID-19 health settings. (link to media release). Apologies for not sending communications earlier than today, but we (Metro Auckland PHOs) were advised that our local area; Te Whatu Ora Te Toka Tumai Auckland, were sending out two urgent Medinz to advise of these changes, and we did not wish to create more noise in your very busy inboxes!
However, unfortunately I have been advised that this Medinz will not be published now until 17 August. It is also very timely that the RNZCGP have just now sent out their response, which I have attached for your information.
I will aim to keep this communication as succinct as possible but there is a fair bit to absorb, so I will segment this into two sections; first one pertaining to the changes in the Covid-19 mandates and secondly the new Covid-19 Model of Care funding, effective 1 October 2023. I would also like to advise that the Auckland HealthPathways Covid-19 suite of pathways, will be updated over the coming days with the required changes, to support your on the ground patient and practice management.
Changes to COVID-19 settings
From 11.59pm on Monday 14 August, the last remaining mandatory COVID-19 public health requirements for a 7-day isolation period for people testing positive for COVID-19, along with the wearing of face masks for visitors to healthcare and disability facilities, was removed.
However, the wearing of face masks by visitors in healthcare settings and continuing to isolate if positive for COVID-19, is still strongly recommended. (Please see below attached FAQ and Key messages documents (August) advising of this, which provide further detail.)
We have been advised that the Te Whatu Ora NZ, national mask use and visitor guidance for hospitals and other health and disability care settings still remains in place. If these are updated further, we will let you know.
You will see from the RNZCGP advice just published, as attached below, also supports this (see their full masking advice section). Our Local Hospitals have advised that they are keeping in line with their current Covid-19 policies, which means; staff and visitors must continue to wear masks in patient-facing areas.
Mask-wearing remains an important way of preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in health and disability care settings.
Our Auckland PHO team will continue to wear a mask when they visit your practices 😊
Please also be reminded of the June 2023; Respiratory risk assessment and PPE guidance for healthcare workers Personal protective equipment guidance for healthcare settings – Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand.
Auckland PHO and our other National PHO Colleagues concur with the RNZCGP’s statements on the importance of the continued Triaging and Streaming, which in essence draws on the internationally recognised IPC “Hierarchy of Controls”.
Mask use by healthcare workers is one of several IPC measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases in healthcare. These include adhering to standard and transmission-based precautions for all patient/client and Aged Care Residents, having clean indoor air through good ventilation, access to testing, having occupational health processes that promote staff vaccination and enable staff to stay home from work when unwell, are all important measures that can reduce the spread of COVID-19, other respiratory and infectious illness in healthcare.
COVID-19 - Guidance for Primary Care - Model of Care funding from 1 October
From 1 October 2023, the model of care for COVID-19 is changing to a more targeted approach to support those most in need of care and identified as being at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.
Funding will be available in both primary care (and community pharmacy) for those who are identified as meeting the Pharmac antiviral access criteria.
(Thus, the current Funding and Model of Care structure will stay in effect until 30 September).
Along with the new guidance (attached below) the Care in the Community team is hosting two Q&A sessions:
- Thursday 31 August: 6.00 – 6.45pm (Teams Live - join here using this link)
- Wednesday 6 September: 6.00 – 6.45pm (Teams Live - join here using this link)
Questions for the sessions can be submitted before Monday 28 August via this link:
There is also a presentation video from the Covid Care in the Community team describing the upcoming changes available here. Password is: careinthecommunity (video is 22minutes).
As always, we at Auckland PHO are here to support you and your teams and we will keep you updated as Te Whatu Ora update us!
Ngaa mihi nui
Dr Charlotte Harris | Clinical Director Auckland PHO