CEO Primary Matters – 15 December 2022

It’s been another very eventful, busy year for the primary health care sector. With the Christmas and New Year break upon us, I wish you all a happy and relaxing festive season. For many of us, this is a period to reflect on the year that was, but also a time to rest, replenish and reset so that we can continue to strive for a healthier western Victoria in 2023. 

Federal Government Announces Changes to Mental Health & National COVID-19 Health Management Plan 

On Monday 12 December the Federal Health Minister Mark Butler announced some significant changes to mental health care and the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan. 

The most significant change to mental health care was that the additional ten mental health session rebates that were added during the global pandemic in August 2020 will end at the start of 2023. This means that consumers will now only be able to get rebates on ten sessions instead of 20 with a mental health plan from their GP. 

The main change in the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 is that from 1 January Medicare-funded PCR tests will require a referral from a medical practioner or nurse. State-operated PCR clinics will continue to accept patients without referrals, with the government extending 50-50 funding for states that choose to keep clinics running. 

Please see the article in Westvic News for more information and links to the media releases from the Federal Government. 

A New Model for Accessing Mental Health, Alcohol & Other Drug Services 

In exciting news, the way people of western Victoria access care for mental health and alcohol and other drug services is changing. The new model of care delivers a simpler way for consumers and the people who support them, to access the care they need, in their local areas without navigating multiple services. 

The process of redesigning a service is long and intensive and begins with an evaluation of current services, review of the latest research and policy developments. This is complemented by co-design, with a wide range of people from the communities of western Victoria. It was clear that partnerships between service providers was key to achieving health care goals for the region. Through all this consultation WVPHN has developed a model of care in 2023 that is built around the needs of their communities and based on the best research and design from across the globe. 

WVPHN Office Closure 

I wish to remind you all that WVPHN will close for the festive break from 2pm on Friday 23 December and will reopen 9am Tuesday 3 January 2023. 

Stay safe and see you next year. 

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