Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

Medicare-subsidised telehealth sessions will be extended until the end of the year, with plans afoot to make it a permanent part of Australia’s health system.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Monday confirmed the $114 million six-month extension, which will make telehealth available until the end of December.

Mr Hunt is working with the Australian Medical Association and various health groups to figure out the best way to permanently incorporate telehealth into the system.

“We have, in the context of COVID, changed the way we deliver medicine in Australia, and so made health more accessible for people in rural and remote areas,” the minister told reporters on Monday.

More than 54 million telehealth consultations have taken place since the start of the pandemic, when coronavirus restrictions made it harder for people to attend appointments in person.

The Australian Psychological Society said 94 per cent of psychologists were using telehealth to provide mental health support to Australians.

The society’s president Tamara Cavenett said the extension would ensure Australians could receive mental healthcare regardless of lockdowns, isolation or health concerns.

“Disrupted treatment plans can mean two steps forward and one step back,” she said.

“Knowing telehealth psychology sessions can be accessed under Medicare until the end of the year provides much-needed certainty for psychologists and their clients.”

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