The following is an announcement from the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board (ODOB) regarding the Government’s possible move to Covid-19 Alert Level 3 on 23 April
FROM THE ODOB BOARD
As optometrists and dispensing opticians work through Alert Level 3, it has been pleasing to see the efforts made across the country to ensure you are practising safely and adhering to the requirements set by Government and your regulatory authority.
The Ministry of Health has acknowledged that in the Health and Disability sector, in particular Allied Health Services, Alert Level 3 is very similar to Alert Level 4.
The Board understands that even though the Alert Level may have changed, it can still be challenging. This can result in stress, anxiety and on-going impact on mental wellbeing. It is important you stay connected, especially with colleagues and don’t be afraid to seek further professional support. There are multiple support pathways on the Board’s website*. Please also remember your obligations as a registered health practitioner under section 45 of the HPCA Act: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0048/latest/whole.html.
As you would be aware cabinet will decide on 11 May 2020 on what happens next. The Ministry of Health has advised they would aim to provide information to health sector within 48 hours after this announcement.
What will Alert Level 2 look like?
Although the Board cannot assume we will move to Alert level 2 after the announcement on 11 May 2020, we have been advised by the Ministry of Health that Alert Level 2 will look a lot different to Alert Level 3, and it would be a “return to work” as long as measures are taken to protect the health and safety of the public. To help you prepare for this change the Board advises you consider how you will manage:
- Physical distancing, which we expect will be ongoing until further notice
- Contact Tracing - recording of patients/customers, employees and any other members of the public. The Ministry of Health is to shortly provide information on a blue tooth enabled app to help with this - https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19/about-covid-19/contact-tracing-for-covid-19/. In addition, the Board suggest following recommendations from your professional bodies including NZAO and ADONZ. Our understanding is that NZAO has partnered with CatTrax as an option.
- Continued high level of vigilance to ensure hygiene protocols are maintained
- Ensuring you as a health practitioner are fit to practise
At this stage it is unclear exactly to what extent you will be allowed to practise and if there will be any restrictions on face-to-face consultations. The advice on this from the Ministry of Health is currently being developed.
The Board is your regulatory authority and is here to provide you mechanisms to ensure you are fit and safe to practise. It is your responsibility to meet your obligations as a registered health practitioner, which includes the above points.
The Board would like to thank all the registrants for their continued efforts in adhering to the Alert Level 3 protocols. As further updates become available, we will communicate these to you.
Jayesh Chouhan, ODOB Board chair, and Antony McFelin, registrar