What you as practitioner need to do during the lockdown to keep providing service

We received the following question from a clinical psychologist in private practice.

“I would like to understand how to manage my private practice as a clinical psychologist. Where do I get permission to go to my practice? Can my clients visit the practice? What do I need in order to continue this essential mental health service. Thank you.”

These are important questions and we can answer in the following way.

Psychological and psychiatric services are deemed as essential service (see page 4) during the lockdown period. You are therefore allowed keep practicing within the bounds set by the regulations from the Minister of Health. For more information, please view our previous posts on providing therapy via the internet or telephone, what you need to know about the current state of claiming for such services, and the Final Lockdown Regulations published by the Minister of Health.

Besides the general guidelines for keeping maintaining sanitary practices at your office or place of work, we foresee two major scenarios with regard to movement during he lockdown and suggest the following guidelines.

Patients moving to and from your practice

We suggest the following guidelines:

  1. If patients are stopped by authorities on their way to or back from your practice, allow the patient to contact you and speak to the person in authority directly.
  2. This will mean you will be interrupted from time to time. Please inform your patients to be flexible and patient.

Practitioners moving to and from their practice setting.

In the event that you as practitioner have to travel to and from your place of work, we suggest you keep a letterhead stating your practice details and your letterhead with you.

The CPF have also issued and Essential Services Letter for members that will serve as a permit when traveling as providers of essential services.

As an essential service provider you may continue your practice. However, you should bear several things in mind while doing so:

  1. Carry your HPCSA card with you.
  2. Carry the letter which we have provided a template of and is available on the CPF website.
  3. You may be stopped and questioned by police or roadblocks and asked for evidence of your appointments, place of work etc. The letter and your card should satisfy them but there is no guarantee. This is an untested situation.
If you decide to go online keep these issues in mind:
  1. We have not yet had confirmation that medical aids will reimburse online sessions and if so for how much.
  2. Medical  professional protection insurance companies may differ as to how they will cover online sessions. Check with your insurance company how they are prepared to manage this.