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Changes to process for allied health referrals

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The way that GPs refer DVA cardholders to allied health professionals is set to change from July 2019 following adjustments foreshadowed in the May 2018–19 Budget.

Under current DVA arrangements, a GP may refer a client to allied health services for up to a year at DVA’s expense (except for dental and optical, for which no referral is required). For chronic conditions, the GP can make an ongoing referral.

Under the new arrangements, which will be in place from 1 July 2019, GPs will only be able to make a referral to allied health services at DVA’s expense for up to 12 sessions or one year, whichever comes sooner. This new arrangement will also apply to those clients with a chronic condition. Dental and optical services will still not need a GP referral.

The new arrangements will be called the ‘treatment cycle’. The treatment cycle is designed to improve quality of care for DVA cardholders.

At the end of the treatment cycle, the allied health provider will report back to the GP who will assess whether further treatment is required. If it is needed, the GP may refer the client for a further treatment cycle at DVA’s expense of up to 12 sessions, or may refer them to another provider if that better suits the patient’s needs, or may consider another type of treatment.

The treatment cycle will not impose any hard ‘cap’ or limit on the number of clinically required services. DVA clients will receive as many services as determined to be clinically necessary by their GP.

DVA clients attend their GP on average 12 times per year. Seeking a referral for allied health services can be done as part of any GP visit.

DVA will consult with allied health providers, medical associations and ex-service organisations on the treatment cycle changes in the lead-up to their implementation, and evaluate their impact during the first year.

The referral changes will allow GPs to ensure that veterans are receiving the best possible care. This is to make sure that veterans are benefiting from their treatment, and to examine whether there may be better treatment options available.

Subject to the success of the new treatment cycle, from February 2021, DVA plans to update key parts of the allied health schedules to help meet future health needs.

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