COVID-19 – daily updates

ANZCA has updated its PPE statement. See here for this and a link to Monday night's webinar on PPE with Australia's deputy chief medical officer.


ANZCA statement on the use of PPE during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (9 April)


ANZCA has released a revised statement in relation to the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

This statement is intended to provide a single bi-national standard, informed by high level expert advice, to facilitate a safe, consistent and standardised approach to the use of PPEs across our two countries. It has been developed with the clear understanding that there will be situations where it will require modification to meet local epidemiological and resource circumstances. Such modifications should, as far as is reasonably possible, be guided by informed expert opinion. 

Read the statement here.

PPE webinar (7 April)

On Monday 6 April ANZCA took part in a webinar with Dr Nick Coatsworth, Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) responsible for issues relating to personal protective equipment (PPE). The Australian Society of Anaesthetists, the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists, the College of Intensive Care Medicine and the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society also participated in this webinar.

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here


Update to MBS telehealth services (7 April)

Further to the recently announced temporary MBS telehealth items, new amendments have been announced regarding the requirement to bulk bill these services:
  • From 6 April 2020, it is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders, children under 16 years old and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. 
  • Health poviders may apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for patients who do not fit the above criteria. Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs.

For specialist and consultant physician item numbers and further information, please see the MBS changes fact sheet.

ANZCA exams update (3 April)

ANZCA is planning for a variety of scenarios with regard to the examinations, and like all trainees and supervisors, are weighed down by how uncertain everything is. The college is working hard across many departments to develop responses to the various issues involved around training, assessment and exams. The chairs and deputy chairs of the Primary and Final Examination Sub-Committees would like to offer their support to trainees and supervisors of training at this time of uncertainty. Currently, there are several options with regard to the exams. We have compiled information which may help candidates prepare for the exams to be held later in the year.


AHPRA creates COVID-19 sub-register (1 April) 

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has created a new pandemic sub-register to fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners. Ahpra will be contacting over 40,000 practitioners who previously held general or specialist registration and left the Register of Practitioners, or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years to alert them that they will be added to this new sub-register. 

The temporary sub-register will operate on an opt-out basis with practitioners added automatically. They will not need to fill in forms or pay fees, nor meet the usual return to practice requirements. There is no obligation for anyone added to the sub-register to practise or remain on it. The pandemic sub-register is expected to be in place from 6 April. For more information visit the COVID-19 information page.


Continuing professional development (30 March)

The Medical Board of Australia will not take action if you cannot meet the CPD registration standard when you renew your medical registration this year.

They are encouraging medical practitioners to continue to do CPD that is relevant to their scope of practice. However, they say they understand that medical practitioners may have difficulty meeting CPD requirements this year as a result of withdrawn/denied leave requests, conference cancellations and the re-prioritisation necessary to meet workforce needs.

The Board will keep a close watch on the situation to determine whether the 2021 renewal year is affected.

More information is available here.


ANZCA in the media COVID-19 (30 March)

ANZCA President  Dr Rod Mitchell was interviewed on ABC Radio Melbourne’s Drive program on Friday 27 March for a seven-minute segment discussing the college’s concerns about the extension of non-urgent elective surgery in private hospitals and the shortage of personal protective equipment. You can listen here, the interview starts at two hours, 24 minutes in. Dr Mitchell was also interviewed on ABC News Radio on Sunday 29 March for a seven-minute segment.

In New Zealand ANZCA fellow, Auckland anaesthetist and pain specialist Dr Leinani Aiono-le Tagaloa, was interviewed by Radio NZ about operating on patients with Covid-19.

Professor David Story, Foundation Chair of Anaesthesia, and Deputy Director, Centre for Integrated Critical Care, The University of Melbourne features in a Guardian Australia podcast on why ventilators are crucial in the fight against COVID-19.
Find it here.


President's Friday update (27 March)

On Friday 27 March ANZCA President Dr Rod Mitchell sent a an update to all fellows, trainees, specialist international medical graduates and staff with latest information about COVID-19 in relation to exams and training, CPD, scope of practice, ASM and events, the cessation of non-urgent elective surgery, personal protection equipment, clinical information, rural and remote communities and personal wellbeing.

See it here


Changes to recertification requirements in New Zealand (26 March)


In recognition of the difficulties doctors are likely to have accessing the usual channels and methods to undertake learning and development to meet recertification requirements, the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) has agreed to waive recertification requirements for the next 11 months. For further information please see the MCNZ website.

The ANZCA and FPM CPD Committee are considering all communications from regulatory authorities and considering how this will impact CPD participants annual and triennial requirements.


ANZCA research round deferred (26 March)


In the interests of reducing the workload on anaesthetists and pain medicine specialists, and ensuring fairness of opportunity, it has been decided to suspend the current 2021 ANZCA research grant round and defer it until next year.

See the full notice here.

ANZCA expresses grave concern at a decision to lift an elective surgery ban (26 March)

ANZCA has joined other medical colleges in a 26 March statement expressing extreme disappointment over the Australian Government’s move to reverse its decision to cancel non-urgent elective surgery and allow private hospitals to continue operations for another week as COVID-19 cases and fatalities continue to increase.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and the College of Intensive Care Medicine Australia and New Zealand (CICM) said the reversal of the original decision to stop all non-critical elective surgery in both public and private hospitals from midnight on Wednesday 25 March was inconsistent with advice from leading medical experts and clearly increases the risk to patients and health care workers.  

Please see here.


Medical colleges, including ANZCA, issue joint statement on non-critical elective surgery (25 March)

On 25 March ANZCA President Dr Rod Mitchell issued a joint statement with the presidents of RACS, RANZCOG and RANZCO calling for an urgent stop to all non-critical elective surgery. Please see here.

Impacts on training (24 March)

On 24 March, ANZCA released a number of overarching educational principles that have guided our decision-making in relation to education and training during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a list of potential impacts to training and ANZCA’s adopted position.

The position published on the ANZCA website will be the most up to date and supersedes any advice provided at a local health service by supervisors of training and others. Please see here.

President's update (20 March)

ANZCA President Dr Rod Mitchell has written to all fellows, trainees and specialist international graduates to update them on the college's response to COVID-19.

See the communication here.

Training updates (18 March)

On 18 March ANZCA informed all fellows and trainees that all final and primary exam vivas scheduled for May have been postponed. The full communication can be seen here.

The primary exam vivas, scheduled for 18-20 May 2020 in Melbourne, have been re-scheduled for 12-14 October 2020. This will be considered an extension of the current examination and written exam marks will be carried over. Invitations for the October vivas will still be sent out on 27 March 2020.

The final exam anaesthetic viva examination, scheduled for 28-30 May 2020, has also been postponed. As a result of this decision, candidates from the 20.1 sitting who are invited to the anaesthetic vivas will now be included in an extended sitting of the October exam. These particular candidates will not need to sit the medical viva examination in August. Candidates who sat the written examination on 13 March can expect to receive their results in mid-April 2020.

Information about the impacts of COVID-19 on training can be found here.

Elective surgery (18 March)

ANZCA issued a statement on 18 March saying that elective surgery should focus only on patients in greatest need.

The college is collaborating with other key medical stakeholders, particularly our colleagues in intensive care medicine, and recognise the importance of continuing to work with health care providers across the public and private health care sectors to collectively prepare for the forthcoming enormous challenges to our health care system.

See the statement here.

ANZCA statement on the role of anaesthetists during the COVID-19 pandemic (17 March)

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists is the peak body for education, training and setting standards of clinical practice for anaesthetists in Australia and New Zealand. There are more than 5000 specialist anaesthetists distributed throughout the two countries, the largest acute care hospital based specialist group.

PS57 Statement on Duties of Specialist Anaesthetists specifically includes roles that may become vital, especially if elective surgery is curtailed:

  • Provision of acute resuscitation services for all emergencies, including retrieval services.
  • Management of patients in the intensive care unit, particularly when there is no intensive care medicine specialist available.
  • Other clinical services as may be necessary and appropriate to the specialty.

As we enter a period of escalating demand on our health systems, ANZCA encourages all anaesthetists to consider their role as our critical care colleagues, particularly intensivists and emergency physicians, come under increased pressure in delivering clinical services to our community. 

ANZCA offices close (17 March)

In the interests of community safety, we have made the decision for all staff across Australia and New Zealand to work from home from Tuesday 17 March. This will be reassessed on Friday 27 March.

Arrangements have been made to ensure day-to-day operational activities continue. A series of daily teleconferences have been scheduled within college business units and a daily teleconference with college leaders has been scheduled.

We have also reviewed and uploaded good clinical resources for anaesthetists in the ANZCA Library.

See the CEO's message to fellows, trainees and specialist international medical graduates sent on 17 March.

ASM cancelled and face to face meetings suspended (13 March)

On Friday 13 March, ANZCA president Dr Rod Mitchell announced the difficult decision to cancel the Perth Annual Scientific Meeting in May, and the suspension of face-to-face meetings until 12 April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

The college contacted all fellows, trainees and specialist international medical graduates following a number of emergency meetings in relation to examinations, the ASM, college events, and potential impacts on training and our trainees, in particular those sitting examinations.

The college is working on minimising the impact of these changes on CPD and is carefully monitoring our exams, training and education activities.

To read the full communique, please see here.

For more information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, please see the Australian Department of Health website and the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.
Copyright © Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.