Changes to patient services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response

As part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, there are changes to patient services.

Digital medical certificates

You can use Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) to lodge digital medical certificates for your patients.

This means your patient doesn’t need to visit a service centre in person.

You can submit a Medical Certificate form directly to your patient’s Centrelink record.

Your patient can also use their Centrelink online account or Express Plus Centrelink app to upload their medical documents.

Read more Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the health and disability sector on the Department of Health website.

Continued dispensing of PBS medicine during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Under continued dispensing arrangements, you can give patients up to a one-month supply of their PBS medicine without a prescription.

This arrangement will be in place until 30 June 2022.

It applies to most PBS/RPBS medicines supplied through community pharmacies including medicines used for:

  • asthma
  • lung disease
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • mental illness.

It means patients who have ongoing medical needs can access their usual medicines at PBS prices.

You can only dispense a medicine if it hasn’t been dispensed under the arrangement in the last 12 months. You must only dispense medicines if it meets the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s continued dispensing guidelines.

Make sure you're satisfied both of these apply before you dispense. The patient’s:

  • medicinal need is urgent
  • previously been prescribed the medicine.

It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re following the necessary legislation before supplying under continued dispensing. This includes your relevant state and territory legislation. You can find out more about the legislation on the Australian Government website.

Read more about continued dispensing on the PBS website.

Temporary arrangements to help patients receive medicines through telehealth

You can dispense medicines using a copy of a prescription sent by email, text or fax.

This arrangement will be in place until 30 September 2021.

This will help patients get their medicines while staying at home.

Prescribers can provide a digital copy of a legal paper prescription directly to the pharmacy. They can’t provide a copy directly to the patient.

You can then dispense the required medicines using the digital copy, and deliver or post them to the patient. Patients don’t need to sign the prescription.

The arrangement applies to all PBS items, except Schedule 8 and 4(D) medicines. However, you’ll need to check if they’re permitted under the relevant corresponding state or territory arrangements.

Make sure you follow the Australian Government legislation when supplying under the interim arrangements. This includes the relevant state and territory legislation.

Read more about interim prescribing and dispensing arrangements on the Department of Health website.

Page last updated: 16 November 2021