News & Updates

NPS MedicineWise Virtual Visits

NPS MedicineWise Clinical Service Specialists (CSS) travel throughout WA metro and regional areas to deliver free, evidence based CPD to GP practices. However, regional practices don’t have to wait for an NPS CSS visit, because NPS CPD can be delivered at any time, via the internet as an interactive Skype Virtual Visit. 

 Virtual Visits give general practitioners more options to book NPS CPD at a date and time that suits them.
 
Virtual visits are interactive discussions or topic content and as such, they qualify for RACGP and ACRRM accreditation, typically;

  • 2 Category 2 RACGP points in the QI CPD Program for the 2017-2019 triennium and
  • 1 Core point in the ACRRM PD Program for the 2017-2019 triennium.

 The topics available are posted on the NPS website.
 
General practitioners and practice managers who would like to book an NPS Virtual Visit can book through the website or contact Nicole Humphry at WAPHA on 08 6272 4921 or email Nicole.Humphry@wapha.org.au.

Cervical screening not recommended for women under 25 years

Cervical screening is not recommended in the renewed program for women under 25 years. Some women under 25 will present with an expectation for screening, having had previous Pap tests. 

Pathology Laboratories are reporting that a significant number of samples are being submitted from women under 25 years of age. Medicare does not fund routine HPV screening tests in women under 25 and testing of these samples will either need to be privately funded by the patient or, with the consent of the referring practitioner, not be processed. 

Commencing screening at age 25 will reduce the investigation and treatment of common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves. It can take 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop from persistant HPV. 

Women under 25 years who are currently under clinical management for a cervical abnormality should be managed according to the recommendations on transitioning individuals in the 2016 Guidelines

Symptomatic women at any age 
Women at any age who have signs or symptoms suggestive of cervical cancer (such as abnormal vaginal bleeding) should have a HPV and LBC co-test and be referred for the appropriate investigation to exclude genital tract malignancy. 

Routine cervical screening is not recommended in women under the age of 25 years
However, for women who experienced early sexual activity at a young age (<14 years) and who had not received the HPV vaccine before sexual debut, or those that have been victims of sexual abuse, a single HPV test between 20 and 24 years of age could be considered on an individual basis.

To avoid out of pocket fees for your patients, please familiarise yourself with the Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing

Further information on the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program is available at www.cancerscreening.gov.au/cervical

Public encouraged to get to know their local GP

Western Australians are being urged to take the time to build a relationship with a local GP to help them manage their health, rather than heading to emergency departments for non-urgent, minor ailments.

The recently launched “Choose Well, When You’re Worried Sick” campaign aims to educate the public on the medical services available to them at their local GP and elsewhere so they can make the best choice of where to go for treatment. Seeing a GP is often the best health care option and a viable alternative to emergency care, even during the holiday period.
 
The campaign, run by WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), emphasises to the public that the local emergency department is irreplaceable for some critical things, however, that when it’s not that urgent it will be the GP that can give a person the best medical advice and treatment as they know the patient, their family and their medical history.
 
With this message WAPHA is addressing potentially preventable hospital admissions where conditions could be managed effectively by a GP, if patients maintained an ongoing relationship with their family doctor. Via social media and in waiting rooms of General Practices and hospitals across WA, the community is encouraged to access the most appropriate health care to ensure the best outcome for both the patient and the system.
 
People are reminded that attention should still be sought at an emergency department for chest pain, severe headaches they’ve never had before, trouble with speech or movement, a very sick child and in the case of a serious accident or illness. In all these instances choosing the emergency department will help save lives and result in timely, highly skilled emergency care. Most other ailments and injuries can be treated by a GP.
 
The “Choose Well, When You’re Worried Sick” campaign will run from November to February. For more information people can visit myhealthcareoptions.com.au

Important information about the National Cervical Screening Program

REVISED: Self-collection of samples should not be offered to women with the commencement of the renewed program on 1 December 2017 until further notice.

One of the components of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program is the introduction of self-collected samples for HPV testing. The self-collection option has been included in the program to encourage women who are aged 30 years or over and have never had a screening test, or who are overdue for testing by at least two years and in either case have declined healthcare provider-collected sample, to participate in cervical screening.

However, self-collection can only be implemented when the laboratory and platform testing processes and equipment attain the various accreditation requirements. This process is still underway. Laboratories are not yet accredited to perform the test and therefore the test is not claimable against the MBS.

Healthcare providers who conduct cervical screening tests are advised not to offer self-collection to eligible women until further notice. All other aspects of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program will go ahead as scheduled on 1 December 2017.

Further information on the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program is available at:
www.cancer screening.gov.au/cervical

Notifiable Data Breach Scheme Commencing 22 February 2018

A Notifiable Data Breach is a data breach that is likely to result in serious harm to any of the individuals to whom the information relates. A data breach occurs when personal information held by an organisation is lost or subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure.

Examples of a data breach include when:

  • a device containing customers’ personal information is lost or stolen
  • a database containing personal information is hacked
  • personal information is mistakenly provided to the wrong person.

The Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 established a Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme in Australia. The NDB scheme requires organisations covered by the Australian Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) to notify any individuals likely to be at risk of serious harm by a data breach.

This includes ‘Health service providers’ which provide a health service and hold people’s health information. This generally includes general practitioners (GPs), pharmacists, therapists, allied health professionals, gyms and weight loss clinics, and childcare centres among others.

This notice must include recommendations about the steps that individuals should take in response to the data breach. The Australian Information Commissioner (Commissioner) must also be notified.

Organisations will need to be prepared to conduct quick assessments of suspected data breaches to determine if they are likely to result in serious harm.
The NDB scheme will commence on 22 February 2018. It only applies to eligible data breaches that occur on, or after, that date.

For more information and a range of resources, including templates for notifying individuals and the OAIC, visit the OAIC

1800 number for Health Care Home enquiries


Participating practices and patients can now contact the department on freecall 1800 290 637

This number is included in the revised patient handbook, which is being mailed to all Health Care Homes' practices and will be available online.

Codeine to become a prescription medication effective February 2018

From 1 February 2018 all codeine products, including previously over-the-counter medications, will require a prescription from an authorised medical professional.

Reasons for this change are: 

  • Some people use excessive amounts of over-the-counter codeine preparations (up to 100 tablets/day) to get opioid effects and as a result sustain severe organ damage (liver, stomach and kidney). 
  • There is no evidence that the doses of codeine in these over-the-counter medications have any analgesic effects beyond placebo. Over-the-counter combinations of paracetamol and ibuprofen are far more effective. 
For more information, including suggested management of suspected opiod dependence in your patients, see the Fact Sheet For Health Professionals

The Alcohol and Drug Support Line offers a 24 hour helpline to patients who seek telephone counselling and advice in relation to alcohol and other drug issues: 
(08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 (country callers).

Find Cancer Early: A Guide for General Practitioners

In Australia, over 75% of cancers first present in general practice as a result of symptoms. GPs play a key role in the early detection of cancer. GPs can experience challenges in early diagnosis as most GPs may only see between five to 10 new cases of cancer among thousands of consultations per year. Additionally, cancers in general practice often present with subtle non-specific symptoms and most symptoms of cancer can also have more common benign causes.
 
To assist GPs, Cancer Council Western Australia presents the Find Cancer Early GP Education Project with a new resource guide for GPs on colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer. The ‘Find Cancer Early: A Guide for General Practitioners’ resource provides evidence-based approaches to assess cancer symptoms to aid decision-making around further investigation or referral. The guide comes with a short video explaining how to use the guide in clinical practice and a WA Cancer Referral Directory. These resources are also accompanied with a Find Cancer Early Webinar Series. The series of four webinars host specialists presenting on; symptoms that best predict the four common cancers; implications for general practice when diagnosing patients with suspected cancer, and recommended referral pathways.
 
To access the resources and view the webinar recordings, visit www.cancerwa.asn.au/gp/fce.

Building resilience in children aged 0-12: A practice guide from beyondblue

To coincide with the new school year, beyondblue recently launched web-based tips for parents and a new resource for professionals - Building resilience in children aged 0–12: A practice guide, which can be downloaded at beyondblue.org.au/resilience-guide
 
The guide is tailored to professionals who are regularly working with children aged between 0 and 12. The content has also been adapted to inform parents and carers about how to support children’s resilience in the home, and can be located on the beyondblue Healthy Families website.
Practice Assist acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the country on which we work and live and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community.

We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to Elders both past and present.