Practice Connect #100

Welcome to Practice Connect, a fortnightly update for practice managers, nurses and practice administration staff on relevant issues, upcoming events and education.

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Celebrating our 100th Edition of Practice Connect

Welcome to this edition of Practice Connect as we celebrate our milestone 100th edition!
Our Practice Connect newsletter was first published in 2017 as part of Practice Assist, a joint initiative of WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) and Rural Health West (RHW), which delivers high-quality support and accurate information to all general practices across Western Australia.
Practice Assist is a free support service that offers guidance through phone 1800 2 ASSIST or email: Plus, an amazing website full of resources designed to help strengthen your practice and improve patient outcomes.
To date since the start of this service our Practice Assist help desk has assisted with 3,694 episodes of support across our state.
Our Practice Connect newsletter has delivered 100 fortnightly updates for practice managers, principals, nurses and administration staff on relevant issues, upcoming events and education.
Since commencing Practice Connect, we have continued to build and maintain a loyal audience base. We currently have over 1,777 subscribers to the newsletter and reach more than 760 general practices state-wide throughout Western Australia with an average of 26 editions per year (plus special editions). As a result, the Practice Connect newsletter continues to be one of our most viewed webpages consistently with each publication.

In our past 100 editions, we have kept our readers informed with relevant industry news, upcoming events, new resources and professional development opportunities. Our most popular topics have included:

  • Practice Incentives Program – Quality Improvement
  • National Immunisation Program
  • Medicare Billing Schedule; updates and changes
  • Practice Management Support; information and resources
  • COVID-19 – telehealth information

The team at Practice Assist look forward to our next newsletter milestone with our readers!
You can subscribe here for more Practice Connect updates from our team, and we also value your feedback on our newsletter and services.
To find out more, please get in touch with the Practice Assist team or visit our website.




An update on the Practice Assist Resource Library

As part of our support for general practices, Practice Assist maintains a library of useful resources in our Practice Assist Resource Library. These resources range across different topics from GP Accreditation, Practice Incentives Program, to the latest in resources around COVID-19.
At present we are reviewing and updating all of our resources to ensure that we have current, accurate and useful information available when needed.

Business Management

COVID-19 Resources

General Practice Accreditation

Practice Incentives Program

Medicare Benefits Schedule

Programs and National Schemes

To see all of our resources in on these topics plus Human Resources, Resources for Practice Nurses, Digital Health and Quality Improvement go to our Practice Assist Resource Library.
The Practice Assist team values your feedback, if you have a new idea for a resource or feedback on a current resource, please email this through to



PIPQI: A reminder to practices

A brief reminder to all practices participating in the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Quality Improvement (QI) that a new quarter commenced on 1 August. To be eligible for this quarter, practices must undertake continuous quality improvement and share data with WAPHA at least once each quarter. If you have any questions, please visit the Practice Assist FAQ page or speak with your Primary Health Liaison or Comprehensive Primary Care Facilitator.




Additional MBS mental health supports during COVID-19

To encourage patients to receive continuous care from their regular GP or medical practice, it is now a legislative requirement that GPs and other medical practitioners working in general practice can only use the COVID-19 MBS items for telehealth or telephone services where they are the patient’s ‘usual medical practitioner’.
Patients will be eligible for GP and OMP telehealth services if they have seen their GP or health practitioner within the same practice at least once in the preceding 12 months face to face.
Additional COVID-19 mental health support for people subjected to ...
The existing relationship requirement does not apply to:

  • children under the age of 12 months;
  • people who are homeless;
  • patients living in a COVID-19 impacted area;
  • patients receiving an urgent after-hours (unsociable hours) service; or 
  • patients of medical practitioners at an Aboriginal Medical Service or an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.
For further information please visit:



ePrescribing: update

The ePrescribing rollout continues with software vendors and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) working to ensure that pharmacies are prepared to receive eScripts. WA Primary Health Alliance is working with the PSA and the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to identify communities where this work has been completed, and to support the safe switch on of ePrescribing. It is important that any practice wishing to send eScripts first  join a Community of Interest to ensure that there are suitable local pharmacies in place to receive and dispense these scripts, as otherwise a replacement paper script will need to be created.
If you would like your practice to become involved in a Community of Interest, or to be provided with an update on the progress of ePrescribing in your community, please contact Further information and FAQs on ePrescribing can be found on Practice Assist.




Encouraging CALD communities to see their GP

At the height of the pandemic, Western Australian GPs reported a drop-in patient numbers, believed to be related to COVID-19 fears.
To encourage patients to continue visiting their GP through this period, WA Primary Health Alliance created the See Your GP campaign.
While confirmed cases within Western Australia remain low, this message remains timely and important particularly for those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Due to stigmas relating to language and cultural issues, people from CALD backgrounds have a significantly lower level of access to some health services, particularly those relating to mental health.1

A series of resources including social media posts and flyers from the See Your GP campaign have been translated into the eight languages most commonly spoken in WA households after English.
These are:

  • Tagalog
  • Indonesian
  • Vietnamese
  • Italian
  • Hindi
  • Chinese
  • Arabic
  • Punjabi

Why is it important to reach these communities?

Almost one in five (about 17.5 per cent) of Western Australian households speak a language other than English. These include Mandarin, Italian, Tagalog and Vietnamese.2
Amidst the increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Victoria and New South Wales, it has been reported that important messages related to COVID-19 prevention and general healthcare have not been received by those within CALD communities. 3

How can your practice help to reach these communities?

1)  Share our translated resources from the See Your GP campaign The See Your GP campaign was designed to remind consumers of the importance of regular medical appointments and reassure them of the availability of safe, essential health care. A series of resources from this campaign have been translated into the eight languages most spoken in Western Australian homes, other than English.

These resources include social media tiles encouraging patients to look after themselves and their family and to take control of their health, as well as flyers and translation guides for each of the eight languages so you can be confident about the messages you are sharing.
You can download these resources and share them on social media here.

2)  Use these Australian Government resources
The Australian Government has several resources to share or direct patients of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities towards, in relation to COVID and their wellbeing.
  • This video shows the impact COVID-19, and the accompanying social distancing, can have on a person’s mental health. It encourages those who aren’t coping to reach out and seek help. The video is available in multiple languages.
  • These resources are specifically related to COVID-19 that have been translated into multiple languages. It includes information how to use the COVIDSafe app, appropriate support lines and assistance for finances and mental health.
  • The COVIDSafe app is now available in 63 languages. The Department of Health website has translated information about the app.





Should immunisation providers consider influenza revaccination in 2020?

One dose of the annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone ≥6 months of age. However, some people are recommended to receive 2 doses: children aged 6 months to <9 years receiving influenza vaccine for the first time (4 weeks apart) and people of any age receiving influenza vaccine for the first time after haematopoietic stem cell transplant or solid organ transplant ( 2 doses 4 weeks apart). Pregnant women may be vaccinated with the next season’s influenza vaccine if it becomes available in the latter part of their pregnancy, even if they were vaccinated with the previous season’s vaccine prior to or earlier in pregnancy.There is not enough evidence to routinely support a second dose in the general population at this time, including adults aged over ≥65 years, even if the influenza vaccine was given early in the season
Further information in the influenza section of the online Australian Immunisation Handbook and NCIRS Influenza FAQs and Fact sheet.





The NCIRS: Schedule changes webinar - Q&A now available

EQuestions and answers from the recent NCIRS webinar entitled ‘​National Immunisation Program Changes: what you need to know’ ​are now available on the NCIRS website here.
The recording of this webinar and the slides are also available.




New NCIRS resource: Immunisation schedules

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have released new tables summarising immunisation recommendations for the following four groups.
  • Non-Indigenous people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in ACT, NSW, VIC and TAS
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NT, QLD, SA and WA
  • People with risk factors for certain vaccine preventable disease (covers patients with medical risk conditions including HIV, diabetes and chronic liver disease, as well as additional behavioural, occupational and environmental risk factors
Access the tables here




National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: monitoring report 2020

This report presents statistics on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) using key performance indicators. Of those who were invited to participate in the NBCSP between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018, 42% undertook screening. For those who screened in 2018, 7% had a positive result warranting further assessment. One in 30 participants who underwent a follow-up diagnostic assessment was diagnosed with a confirmed or suspected cancer. The report can be read here.



NPS MedicineWise update

NPS MedicineWise are offering a free webinar on Wednesday 26 August, 2020 for Health Professionals working in the aged care setting: Working together to enhance transitions of care for people with Dementia.
In this webinar the panel, consisting of a geriatrician, GP and nurse, will discuss the challenges of optimising transitions of care for people living with dementia using real-life case scenarios.
This webinar has been developed in partnership with Dementia Training Australia. Register here




GP Urgent Care Network: update

Winter Focussed GP Urgent Care awareness campaign

To assist WAPHA in promoting the upcoming Winter Focussed campaign, the ‘Burst 3’ of the GP Urgent Care Network Pilot awareness campaign commenced on the 2 August. Different components of the publicity campaign will run across specific times, through to the weekend of 12 September.
Details of the campaign to run across the Perth metropolitan area and Bunbury region can be found here on the WA Department of Health Website – GP Urgent Care campaign.
Look out for the following:

Outdoor Signage

  • Large GP Urgent Care signs in shopping centres across 26 Perth metropolitan venues and Bunbury Forum
  • Large outdoor signs in 9 Perth metropolitan train and bus stations

Digital Media

  • 5sec, 10sec, 15sec and 30sec video and audio media across various digital platforms
  • Text banner advertisements


  • From 9 August – 5 September, 15sec and 30sec advertisements across Perth (channels 9, 7, 10, SBS) and Bunbury (GWN) networks

Radio Advertising

  • From 9 August – 12 September Coverage across Perth (94.5, 92.9, 93.7, 96fm, 6PR, 6IX) and Bunbury (Hit Southwest) stations.


Support for General Practices participating in the GP Urgent Care Network Pilot

The network pilot recognises that GPs, practice managers, nurses and reception staff may need opportunities to refresh their urgent care skills.
WAPHA in collaboration with RACGP WA, Benchmarque, and Ctec (UWA) will deliver a series of workshops over the life of the GP Urgent Care pilot which will focus on relevant skills and topics to support practice staff. These training opportunities can attract Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points.
Members of the Network should check News and Alerts on the WAPHA website for information about up and coming events.  The delivery of these training opportunities may change due to COVID-19 restrictions.
For any further enquiries please email or call the GP Urgent Care Project Officer Cheryl Bell on 0429 126 925.




HealthPathways Mental Health Working Group and COVID-19 updates

Expression of Interest: Mental Health Criteria Working Group- Adult Community Mental Health Services

Expressions of interest are now open for General Practitioners to participate in the Mental Health Criteria Working Group. HealthPathways WA is partnering with Metropolitan Health Service Providers to create referral criteria for Adult Community Mental Health Services in Perth metro. These criteria will provide referring clinicians with an understanding of the scope and limitations of services and will be published on HealthPathways WA. The working group will be held on the 15th of September 2020 at 7am until 9am, the venue is TBC.
Commitment to a HealthPathways Working Group consists of:

  • Attendance at a two-hour meeting in person (please note if the situation changes due to COVID-19 this event will be held virtually).
  • One hour to undertake a pre or post activity (the details will be provided at a later stage).
The working group will be held in the morning. In recognition of your contribution and time taken away from usual practice, remuneration will be offered at $120 + GST per hour ($360 + GST in total) + travel time and expenses for which an invoice template will be provided. You are also eligible for 6 CPD Activity points (formerly Category 2 QI&CPD points) through RACGP or PDP hours through ACRRM.
GPs are encouraged to submit an expression of interest via the Project site. An invitation to participate in the working group will be sent to selected GPs. For more information please email the HealthPathways team at


COVID-19 Last Days of Life and COVID-19 Impact of Clinical Care pathways are now available on HealthPathways

A reminder that information relating to COVID-19 for GPs based on information including the WA Department of Health latest testing criteria is listed and regularly updated on HealthPathways WA website. To see recent pathways published and updated read more.
New COVID-19 pathways are now available on HealthPathways
The following pathways have now been published on HealthPathways WA:

COVID-19 HealthPathways Updates

The following content updates have now been published: Updated testing information based on WA Department of Health latest testing criteria, testing directions and clinician alert as of 30 July 2020. Includes advice to not routinely prescribe dexamethasone to patients with mild COVID -19 as per National COVID- 19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce recommendations.
Link added to the updated National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce -Management of Adults with mild COVID-19 clinical flowchart. Included additional advice on supportive care and to not routinely prescribe dexamethasone in children or adolescents with COVID-19 who do not require oxygen as per National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce recommendations.  Added information to the clinical editor’s note regarding the changes to Telehealth services as of 20 July 2020.
Included link to the RACGP MBS changes factsheet.

Added RACGP resource - Responding to a COVID-19 case in the practice
Updated advice to state that where possible maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres.





National breast implant recall - update

For patients asking about breast implants following the TGA review of breast implants and breast tissue expanders, the WA Department of Health is in the process of sending letters to all patients who have had implants in the last 15 years in a WA public hospital. Patients are advised to seek a review by their GP if they have concerns regarding their implant or symptoms.
GP Referral Guidelines have been developed and are available on the WA Health Central Referral Service guide for referring patients that require an outpatient appointment within the public health system.
Key Points

  • The Guidelines require patients with a seroma or other clinical signs and symptoms of breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) are required to have a bilateral diagnostic breast ultrasound scan prior to referral.
  • Private patients should be referred to their implanting surgeon or private hospital for further advice if necessary.
  • The current advice from the TGA is that the risk of developing BIA-ALCL is rare and therefore removal of breast implants is not recommended if the patient does not have symptoms of BIA‑ALCL. The TGA estimates that between one in 2,500 and one in 25,000 people with breast implants have been diagnosed with BIA-ALCL in Australia.
In the absence of clinical concerns:
  • Referral for specialist review may not be warranted and the TGA recommends that you advise patients with breast implants to perform breast self -examination regularly and return for review if concerns arise. It may be appropriate for you to arrange a follow-up review with the patient at a later date.
  • Ultrasound is not recommended for asymptomatic patients unless there are clinical concerns.

The TGA has published fact sheets for both health professionals and consumers.





APNA Disease Management and Healthy Ageing Education Program

Empower your patients to age well and thrive

APNA (Australian Practice Nurse Association) have opened up 4 new sessions of their Disease Management and Healthy Ageing Education Program due to popular demand.  Registrations to start the 12-month program are open from the following dates:

  • 10 September
  • 1 October
  • 2 November
  • 3 December

Details regarding the course inclusions, and how to register are available on the APNA website or Click Here.
With 1 in 2 Australians suffering from chronic disease, there's no better time to upskill in chronic disease management and healthy ageing. APNA's new 12-month program offers over 50 hours of online and face-to-face learning, designed for nurses by nurses in primary health care.




Practice Nurses may now certify NDSS Forms

As the State and Territory Agent for the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), Diabetes WA wants to inform health professionals that from 1 August 2020, practice nurses (enrolled and registered nurses) are authorised to complete and sign/certify some NDSS forms.
The following forms that can now be certified by a practice nurse are available on the NDSS website at

  • NDSS Registration form;
  • Blood Glucose Monitoring Strip Six Month Access form; and
  • Syringe or Pen Needle Access form (previously known as Medication Change form).

This business process is optional for each GP or medical practitioner / clinic, and a practice nurse would not be required to certify a form unless it is within their scope of practice, knowledge and experience to do so.
More information and access to FAQs for practice nurses are available at
Please see Diabetes WA’s website for NDSS-funded Diabetes WA program descriptions, locations, dates and times and Referral forms.
For localised assistance please contact Diabetes WA’s Primary Care Engagement Team at




PSR to consider impact of COVID-19 on 80/20 rule

The Director of the Professional Services Review Professor Julie Quinlivan recently stated, 'patients presenting for COVID-19 testing could cause an unusual level of need for services'.
This will be taken into consideration for any practitioner referred for a breach of the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule refers to a practitioner rendering 80 or more attendance items on 20 or more days in any 12-month period. The Department of Health is required under the Health Insurance Act 1973 to refer these practitioners to the Director of the Professional Services Review.
Read the full statement from the Australian Government Professional Service review here




Allocation of surgical masks from the National Medical Stockpile

WA Primary Health Alliance continues to operate a significant logistical strategy to distribute masks during the COVID-19 pandemic to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, pharmacies and allied health practices that meet the criteria of the Department of Health Tranche 4 guidelines.
For mask requests, visit the Practice Assist website.
Please note, re-orders will not be accepted within five business days (Mon-Fri) of the previous request, except in exceptional circumstances.
Please send all general queries in relation to the National Medical Stockpile to





WAPHA: Free general practice wellness program

WA Primary Health Alliance is offering FREE counselling support for all GPs and their practice staff across WA through the long established and experienced employee assistance program provider, AccessEAP, to support WA general practice teams, navigate the COVID-19 response
Further information is provided in the attached brochure.
When you call to access the service, you must identify as a Member of WA Primary Health Alliance.
To book a phone or video counselling appointment, you can call AccessEAP anytime on 1800 818 728.
GPs and practice staff can also contact Practice Assist on 1800 2 ASSIST with any questions about the program.




Health Promotion Events

Daffodil Day is August 23

The daffodil is recognised internationally as the symbol of hope for all people affected by cancer. Cancer Council chose the daffodil as the emblem as the bright yellow colouring heralds the return of spring, representing new life and growth.
To Cancer Council, and those affected by cancer, the daffodil represents hope for a cancer free future.
The Daffodil Day Appeal is Cancer Council's most iconic and much-loved fundraising campaign. It is a day for Australians to give hope to those affected by all cancers by donating to support a cancer free future.
Each year, on the fourth Friday in August, thousands of Australians support Daffodil Day and fund world class cancer research to find new ways to better detect, treat and defeat cancer.
For more information on Daffodil Day please visit


Coming up soon…
Red Nose Day August 14
National Wound Awareness Week August 17-23
Healthy Bones Action Week August 20-26
Speech Pathology Week August 23-29
Tracky Dack Day August 28




Webinars and online training

All events are listed on our Webinars and Workshops page.

Symptoms and Defining Stages of Syphilis
Presented by WA Health CDCD
View a recording here
Healthdirect Video Call Familiarisation Webinars
Presented by Healthdirect
View a recorded session here
Recorded session
Online mental health case discussion and peer support group for GPs
Presented by Black Dog Institute
Multiple dates
GP Urgent Care Workshop 6 Month Evaluation
Presented by WAPHA
Thursday 13 August
GP Education Event - Ageing and Beyond:
Presented by Joondalup Health Campus in partnership with RACGP, North Metropolitan Health Service, WA Primary Health Alliance and HealthPathways
Saturday 15 August
ACCRM AOD Addiction Education for GPs
Presented by ACCRM
Tuesday 25 August
Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Assault
Presented by Women’s Health & Family Services
Tuesday 25 August

Death of a colleague
Presented by Rural Health West and MDA National

Wednesday 9 September
Understanding teenage boys
Presented by RACGP

Thursday 10 September
Improving Patient Outcomes and Experience
Presented by the Public Sector Network
Thursday 10 September
The Cutting Edge: Proceduralist Obstetrics and Gynaecological Skills
Presented by Rural Health West and CTEC
Friday 2 October
The Cutting Edge: Managing Skin and Soft Tissue Injuries
Presented by Rural Health West and CTEC
Friday 9 October
Environmental health: how climate change affects health and healthcare
Presented by RACGP
Thursday 29 October
Prepare for ePrescribing – free online course
Presented by Australian Digital Health Agency
Online training
COVID-19 Infection Control Training
Presented by Department of Health
Online training
Chronic Disease Management and Healthy Ageing Program
Presented by APNA
Online training


Practice Assist acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country and recognises the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.

While the Australian Government Department of Health has contributed to the funding of this website, the information on this website does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by the Australian Government. The Australian Government is not responsible in negligence or otherwise for any injury, loss or damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.