Home > News - Pitopito kōrero > Guidance on seeing patients during Alert Level 4 lockdown (non-DHB)

Guidance on seeing patients during Alert Level 4 lockdown (non-DHB)

This guide is provided for Physiotherapists working in a non-DHB environment. DHB’s will have their own set of guidelines and protocols that DHB physios will need to follow.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has categorised physiotherapy as an essential service under Alert Level 4 as it meets the following criteria:

‘A health and disability service that responds to emergency and acute care needs (including emergency dentists, physiotherapy, radiography)’ 

While this allows physiotherapists to treat patients legally under the Alert Level 4 lockdown, it does not mean every situation fits the criteria of emergency and acute care being a face to face consultation.

As the MoH also states ‘services should ideally put in place alternative ways of working (e.g. virtually) to keep employees safe…’

Telehealth services are in place allowing many patients who would usually have a face-to-face consultation to be assessed and treated during the Alert Level 4 lockdown. This should still be used for the vast majority of cases.

The Physiotherapy Board’s definition of ‘emergency and acute care needs’ for physiotherapists wanting to assess and treat patients, face-to-face under Alert Level 4, has been discussed and agreed by the Ministry of Health. It involves:

  • a condition which is life or limb threatening
  • treatment required to maintain the basic necessities of life or
  • treatment to avoid a permanent, significant disability?
  • treatment which cannot be delivered by a service which is currently operating such as A&E or urgent care/DHB services, or other health personnel already in contact with the patient.

The flow chart below has been provided for guidance when determining whether a patient requires a face-to-face consultation.

The criteria applies to all physiotherapists, including those who are providing services and treatment to essential workers.

Please be aware that by seeing a patient face-to-face you are breaking your bubble and potentially increasing the risk of contracting or passing the virus to those around you. PPE is not a panacea and may not always be effective in halting transmission.

We are currently working on how physiotherapy services will look under Alert Level 3 and will be releasing further guidance on this once MoH have clarified their framework.

Flowchart: Am I able to provide physiotherapy services during Alert Level 4 (non-DHB)

* MOH Resources for Health Practitioners available here

# COVID-19 Face to face patient contact register available here

If you have difficulty reading the chart above a PDF version is available for download here.

Detailed information about telehealth is available here.