Lift current restrictions on telehealth consultations to reduce coronavirus risk

Friday, March 20, 2020

‘Right now is the time for the Australian Government to expand the availability of telehealth services by lifting all current restrictions on its use’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘Specifically, we must lift current Medical Benefits Schedule item restrictions that require a face-to-face consultation for patients—including those provided by specialists, nurses and other health professionals.

We must also remove all the current telehealth item restrictions that are limited to those having confirmed COVID-19,  or who are in the 70-and-over high-risk group, who have seen the GP previously.  

‘Expanding the use of telehealth rather than face-to-face consultations is consistent with current social distancing recommendations, and will assist in ensuring we can all stay at healthy’, Ms Verhoeven said.  

‘We have too much at risk to continue trying to ration MBS use through unnecessary restrictions on telehealth'.

‘The Commonwealth Government must urgently demonstrate its commitment to our health, by freeing up unnecessary restrictions and regulations which cannot be justified, not only under current COVID-19 conditions, but in a truly modern health system.  

‘This should not be a time-limited change, but an ongoing commitment to supporting telehealth services as a fundamental component of an Australian health system that reaches all of its population, including those living in rural and remote areas.’

‘Known barriers to care can be exacerbated in a crisis—we have a crisis, and this is a good opportunity to remove the barriers to telehealth services.’


More information on AHHA is available at

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.


Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA 0403 282 501