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Increasing the capacity of the health workforce to deliver essential health services

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.

These are difficult times for us all, and Council wishes to acknowledge the uncertainty that the osteopathic profession has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you will be aware, New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 3, moving to Alert Level 4 on Wednesday, with the situation evolving rapidly from the previous Alert Level 2.

Since the announcement yesterday afternoon, we have wanted to confirm that we are providing the correct information before issuing a statement to the profession, especially one as serious as this.
The New Zealand government has not included osteopathic healthcare under the category of ‘essential services’, and that all non-essential services are required to close. It is therefore our expectation that osteopathic practices will be closed for face-to-face appointments while New Zealand remains at Alert Level 4.

We realise the financial strain that this may create for the profession, and we recommend exploring the support offered by the New Zealand government at this time. The Wage Subsidy is available to contractors and the self-employed, and the application process is very straight-forward. Please see the explanation of the process and application forms at the following link:

https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-support.html

Many banks are also offering support for those experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.

There may also be some concern from practitioners regarding payment of APC fees, which are due at the end of this month. Although a majority of the profession have already renewed their APCs and paid the associated fees, there may be osteopaths that are expecting to face financial hardship. As an entity fully funded by the profession, the fees accrued through APC renewal are necessary to the functioning of the Council, and the Council must function under the HPCA Act.

Council has also explored flexible or delayed payment options, both in the past and for the current situation. It is again important to note that the costs associated with these options - whether these are the costs of finance, infrastructure and IT development and/or administration - would need to be passed on to the profession through an increased APC fee. For a small profession, it is more economical and expedient for practitioners to seek financial support from entities that are set up to provide it (e.g. banks, financial institutions and government agencies) rather than Council seeking to act in this role.

We are also aware that some osteopaths may be considering delaying their APC renewal until the Alert Level is decreased and clinics can reopen, thereby facing a reduced APC fee. Although this is an option for practitioners, the Council advises careful consideration before it is taken. Practitioners would not be able to act in their capacity as health professionals (including giving health advice or consulting with a patient remotely, such as over the phone or via the internet) without a current APC. Despite this, this may be a way for those facing significant hardship to ease the burden.

Please note, however, that although APCs are due for renewal on the 31st of March, the online renewal process will be open until the 30th of April. It is important that any osteopaths wishing to delay the start of their next APC contact Council directly, as should any osteopaths applying to renew after online applications have closed.

If individual practitioners have considered all the options available to them and are still concerned about their ability to pay APC fees, Council is happy to discuss individual cases.

Given the uncertainty around the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how New Zealand’s response may develop, the Council will continue to consider what impact developments may have on the profession and may offer further guidance as necessary. While we aim to send this guidance to all registrants, please continue to check the OCNZ website for further news, as this is often the fastest and easiest way for us to post information.

Please be aware that the staff supporting the OCNZ, including our contact staff, will be working remotely, and there may be delays in getting through. We appreciate your patience at this time.

News

  • Ministry of Health Media Release - increasing the capacity of the health workforce to deliver essential health services

    Increasing the capacity of the health workforce to deliver essential health services 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...

  • Covid-19

    These are difficult times for us all, and Council wishes to acknowledge the uncertainty that the osteopathic profession has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. As you will be aware, New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 3, moving to Alert Level 4 on Wednesday, with the situation evolving rapidly from...