A fundamental part of the service we provide our members and clients is the provision of legal support in matters where legal representation is required and also where guidance or advice is needed particularly for enquiries such as ones with Ahpra (Advice Matters). We are very proud of the work we do in these areas and our services are very much in demand!
Over the last year, we have seen a marked increase in the number of calls for medico-legal support compared to the prior year. We hope the word is out about how accessible and easy it is to speak to our solicitors and obtain advice.
We had a significant increase in calls in March and April this year consequent on the pandemic where members and clients were seeking advice and reassurance relating to the range of issues that COVID-19 presented in their practice. This presented a challenge to our Legal Services team who worked tirelessly to keep on top of these enquiries and provide the support you needed.
Reviewing the types of Advice Matters we have dealt with, particularly over the last 6 months, highlights the vast range of issues that have been troubling practitioners and the progression of issues as the pandemic has unfolded.
From early March the issues raised were very practical, dealing with COVID or suspected COVID patients, adequate access to PPE, self-isolation and managing practice staff (staff wearing of masks and flu vaccinations). We also had many questions about what medical and healthcare services could and could not be provided.
As the Federal Government facilitated the use of telehealth, the issues turned to appropriate telehealth platforms, privacy, Medicare item numbers and billing, and the insurance cover provided by MIGA.
As cases began to grow and risk of infection increased, we started fielding questions about patient triage policies, medical clearance certificates, restrictions on elective surgery which varied by State, patients seeking exemptions from mask wearing and stay at home orders, how to accommodate ‘at risk’ staff members and how to deal with patient complaints arising from these issues.
More recently, we have had questions about compliance with restrictions where patients or colleagues are not adhering to mandatory isolation.
As hard as isolation and ‘lock-downs’ are, keeping up in such a rapidly changing environment and managing safety and patient expectations is a huge challenge. We know that you have had a tough year and that it isn’t over yet. But you are doing an amazing job and we are here to help you with advice in relation to those matters covered under your insurance policy with us.
We encourage you to call us and to utilise the FAQs that we have posted on our website which we continually update, in an effort to keep you informed. In these unprecedented times, we have worked hard to ensure the information on our website is current and clear.
Please call if you need us.