Communications and advocacy update: 13 October

13 October 2021

Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:

Booster vaccination/third doses of COVID vaccine for Group 1A high-risk workers, including healthcare workers

AMA Victoria has asked the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to substantially bring forward its timeline for considering and recommending a third/booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for 1A high-risk workers, including healthcare workers, in Victoria.  We have expressed to ATAGI, as well as the Federal and State Governments, that the current timetable will leave many healthcare workers in Victoria with potentially significantly waned immunity at a time when COVID-19 transmission in the community is predicted to rapidly increase. We argued that individual healthcare workers, the healthcare workforce as a whole, and patient care, would all be jeopardised if booster doses are not made available as a matter of urgency. 

We proposed that booster doses be immediately offered to group 1A high-risk workers at the point when there is sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccine available for the current population (which should be in the coming weeks given increasing supply). We also requested that vaccine doses not used in the current rollout, that are about to expire, be offered to healthcare workers in preference to being discarded.

Urgent measures required to support Victoria’s healthcare workers

We have written to the Victorian Department of Health requesting that it urgently implement several measures to support Victoria’s healthcare workers in this time of crisis: 

Importantly, we highlighted to the Department that, in implementing these measures, care must be taken to not divert healthcare workers away from the acute healthcare system and that the Department and health services should support staff with the use of non-clinical resources. 

New feature in SafeScript - new correspondence alerts

SafeScript has been recently being updated with a new feature, following feedback from prescribers. 

Prescribers now will receive an email to their SafeScript registered email address each time they receive new correspondence in SafeScript. This means whenever prescribers are issued with a Schedule 8 permit or a letter requesting further information regarding a Schedule 8 permit application, the prescriber will receive an email alerting them of their new correspondence in SafeScript.

In line with privacy requirements, there are no patients details in the email and prescribers will need to be logged in to SafeScript to view the correspondence.

Prescribers can opt-out to not receive email notifications if they wish via their SafeScript account preference. They can opt back in at any time.

Proposal to remove Schedule 8 permit requirements for Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis

The Victorian Department of Health is proposing to remove Schedule 8 permit requirements for Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis for non-drug dependent patients, following a review of the permit system earlier this year. 

The proposal is to remove the definition of Schedule 8 cannabis and Schedule 8 tetrahydrocannabinol as special Schedule 8 poisons in the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017 and thereby remove them from the special Schedule 8 permit requirements under Regulations 10, 11 and 12.
Now that SafeScript use is mandatory, the Department intends to reduce the regulatory burden on prescribers who prescribe Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis to non-drug dependent patients. Prescribers will need to continue to check SafeScript each time before prescribing Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis and apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for Special Access Scheme approval. There will be no changes to permit requirements for drug-dependent patients.
The Department is seeking AMA Victoria’s response to the following questions in relation to this proposed regulatory amendment:

  1. Whether we support the removal of Schedule 8 permits for treatment with Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis for non-drug dependent patients?
  2. Whether we consider this regulatory reduction may have any negative impact for patient outcomes or prescribers? 
  3. Any other comments in relation to the proposed amendment?

Members are welcome and encouraged to share their views. If you would like to contribute towards our response, please email your feedback to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at by Monday 25 October.

Statewide Palliative Care Advice Service

The Palliative Care Advice Service is a State Government phone service that is run by the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

The service provides support, advice and guidance to those living with life-limiting illnesses and those who support them. For doctors and other clinicians, the service's palliative care physicians provide immediate advice on symptom management, prescribing and conversions.

Click here for more information.


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