Last minute delay to veterans’ health reforms

Matt Woodley

1/07/2019 3:32:01 PM

Changes aimed at giving GPs more involvement in ongoing care for returned servicemen and women will now not come into effect until 1 October.

The reforms apply equally to veterans with chronic health issues, but won’t be implemented until October.

Veterans Affairs Minister Darren Chester announced the delay late on Thursday 27 June, while provider letters were only distributed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) on the final business day before the reforms were due to be enacted on 1 July.
Minister Chester said the Government postponed the changes to allied health referrals after stakeholders indicated the need for more support to accompany the system.
‘We have listened to feedback from health professionals who deliver care to the veteran community,’ he said.
‘DVA has been instructed to work closely with allied health providers, GPs and the veteran community to ensure the new arrangements are properly communicated and implemented in a timely manner.’
In a letter to the RACGP, the DVA outlined the rationale behind the delay and wrote that the department will continue to seek feedback ahead of the new 1 October deadline.
‘DVA has worked closely with associations to understand the needs of providers in relation to the treatment cycle. We are committed to continuing this high level of engagement,’ the DVA wrote in the letter.
‘At the meeting of the Health Provider Partnership Forum on Wednesday 3 July 2019, we will be working with forum members to agree on consultation steps over the next three months.’
The treatment cycle initiative was developed by the DVA last year and will restrict GP referrals to allied health services to either 12 sessions or one year (whichever comes sooner) in an effort reduce fragmentation of care and ensure greater GP involvement in monitoring treatment plans.
Changes are set to apply equally to veterans with chronic health issues, but have been criticised by some allied health bodies, including the Australian Physiotherapy Association, for giving too much power to GPs and potentially creating gaps in services and greater out-of-pocket expenses.
These concerns are shared by opposition veterans’ affairs spokesman Shayne Neumann, who welcomed the delay and called the incoming model ‘harsh’.
‘[The changes] could mean an extra visit to the GP every few weeks for many veterans with high and complex needs, and result in gaps and delays in treatment,’ he said.
‘Veterans will be out of pocket from the cost of increased GP visits and it will particularly disadvantage people living in rural and remote areas.
‘This last-minute backflip by the Government on the start date shows it has failed to consult properly with veterans and health professionals.’
Concerns over the imposition new requirements would have on totally and permanently incapacitated (TPI) veterans have already prompted the Government to make physiotherapy and exercise physiology services exempt from the new system for Gold Card holders.

allied health referrals veterans

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Roderick Bain   2/07/2019 6:22:50 PM

As a medical adviser to Ex-service Organisations we've little or no consultation on topics like this from DVA . Ad hoc practises seem to prevail at every turn & the results are patchy at best. The Dept. can do better.