In a time where a lot of things were unpredictable, the Rural Health West Workforce Solutions team worked hard to ensure rural and remote areas continued to have access to quality healthcare.
Throughout the 2019-2020 financial year, the team recruited 118 nurses, midwives, dentists and allied health professionals and 43 GPs across rural WA. Rural Health West Workforce Solutions Manager Zeta Welch said she was particularly proud of the team’s success in filling solo GP roles in Three Springs, Kununoppin and Wongan Hills.
“Finding the right person for a solo GP role can require an extensive search and collaboration with shires, local residents, WA Country Health Service and prospective applicants.”
The team has worked hard to build relationships with stakeholders, particularly with rural doctors who may be looking to relocate or are ready to take on their own practice.
“Those efforts paid off when recruiting for these roles and meant those communities experienced minimal disruption to medical services,” Zeta said.
Building relationships with employers and universities has also paid dividends with the team placing a record number of health graduates over the past year.
“Over the years, Recruitment Consultant Brooke Wilson has had a presence at university career days to talk about opportunities in the country,” Zeta said.
“She generally takes along a rural physiotherapist, occupational therapist or dentist to demystify living and working in the bush and dispel the worry that new graduates will find themselves out of their depth.
“New health graduates are highly employable, and many receive multiple job offers, so employers need to offer an attractive overall job package.
“Brooke has spent time working with rural practices so they understand how to best structure a role and package that will suit and attract a new graduate.
“A few bigger employers have developed excellent graduate programs that include mentoring, supervision and upskilling, and we work with smaller employers to implement key aspects of these.”
Work done with the Western Australian Allied Health Interested in Bush Experience (WAALHIIBE) Student Rural Health Club has improved the visibility of rural health roles with students and has encouraged more of them to consider careers in their country.
“I think today’s health students better understand the benefits of working in the country and the massive jumpstart it can give their careers – exposure to diverse patients and presentations, work in multidisciplinary teams and the chance to explore WA,” Zeta said.
“Rural exposure gives new graduates genuine confidence in their clinical skills and knowledge which has a lasting impact on their careers.”
WA Primary Health Alliance and Practice Assist are continuing to distribute PPE from the national stockpile to primary care in Western Australia. To date we have distributed:
We look forward to continuing to work with primary care providers to improve health equity through better access and outcomes for Western Australians in 2021. "Better Health, Together".
Festive wishes from the team at Practice Assist, may we take this time to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe holiday over this period.
Please be advised of our Christmas closure over the festive period for 2019/2020.
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.
These are some of our new and or updated resources in our Resource Library.
We would appreciate your feedback on our resources for use in your practice use, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas and comments.
From 10 December 2020 until 30 June 2022, new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items will be available for care recipients in residential aged care facilities (RACF’s) to support the mental and physical health of residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or the measures taken to contain its spread.
Patients in RACF’s will now have access to the Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative. This includes access for up to 20 individual psychotherapy sessions where their GP or psychiatrists determines they would clinically benefit from additional mental health support. This will ensure that all aged care residents can access Better Access initiative the same way as people living in the community.
The new MBS items for residents in a RACF’s replicate the existing face to face and telehealth items for allied health chronic disease management plan services, indigenous follow up services for eligible patients who have received a health assessment, and group assessment services. There will also be new temporary residential aged care facility MBS items that permit residential care recipients to access up to 10 services per calendar year for selected physical therapy services, including exercise physiology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
See MBS online for further details and stay tuned for Practice Assist Factsheets on the changes coming soon.
The following content updates have now been published on the HealthPathways website:
COVID-19 Assessment and Management:
To access HealthPathways please contact your WAPHA Practice Support team member or email the HealthPathways team at email@example.com.
Dr Marisa Gilles Public Health physician South West
Syphilis is back
Infectious syphilis cases are increasing significantly in the South West area and at the end of October the South West was declared a syphilis outbreak region by the Chief Health Officer of WA.
The cases are predominately detected in vulnerable populations, including Aboriginal (44%), people that are experiencing homelessness and people who inject drugs. Of concern are the women of reproductive age because of the risk of congenital syphilis if they do not get detected and treated during their pregnancy. There have been two cases of congenital syphilis in Perth in 2019 including one stillbirth, both in women from vulnerable groups who contracted syphilis during pregnancy which was not diagnosed until the time of delivery. We need to be hyper vigilant in pregnant women to prevent this happening in the South West.
What does this mean for your practice? Test, test, test
GPs should test for syphilis in all persons attending for diagnosis and treatment of any STI, or where screening for STIs is indicated. Other high-risk groups should be offered opportunistic screening for STIs, including syphilis.
All pregnant women should be screened for syphilis at the booking appointment and women from high risk groups should also be screened at 28 weeks, 36 weeks and at delivery.
All women of childbearing age diagnosed with syphilis require a pregnancy test.
How do you treat syphilis?
Infectious syphilis (< 2 years duration) should be treated with benzathine benzylpenicillin (Bicillin® L-A) injection 2.4 million units (1.8 gm) IM stat, one 1.2-million-unit syringe into each buttock intramuscularly.
Syphilis of longer or unknown duration should be treated once weekly for three weeks if not already treated in the past.
Benzathine benzylpenicillin is available as a Doctor’s Bag (external site) item.
WACHSSouthwestCommunicableDiseaseControl@health.wa.gov.au can also assist with the provision of benzathine benzyl penicillin.
Syphilis serology (including RPR) should be repeated at the time of treatment and then be checked at 3-, 6- and 12-months post-treatment.
Detailed treatment information is available in the Silver book (WA STI/BBV management guidelines) and via HealthPathways.
Please let your public health unit know of any new case of syphilis. Contact tracing is critical!
All cases should be notified promptly to the Department of Health. Contact tracing should commence straight away. WACHSSouthwestCommunicableDiseaseControl@health.wa.gov.au can assist with contact tracing.
Due to an incorrect update in Best Practice software it is recommended that practices using Best Practice review prescriptions and administration history for all individuals prescribed routine long acting benzathine benzylpenicillin G (Bicillin L-A®) since March 2019.
A Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) update required Pfizer to re-label benzathine benzylpenicillin (Bicillin L-A®) from milligrams to international units. An error in Best Practice software prescribing occurred when the previous 900mg/2.3ml dose was incorrectly replaced with the 600,000 unit/1.17ml dose instead of the correct equivalent of 1,200,000 units/2.3ml dose. This may have resulted in under-dosage for some patients.
Best Practice has issued a notification to their users recommending ceasing the current prescription and creating a new prescription for the appropriate value until this is resolved in their December update.
The WA Country Health Service has issued the following alerts regarding this issue in relation to syphilis see attached communique and acute rheumatic fever see attached communique.
WAPHA recommends that practices using Best Practice software review their patient records to identify any patients that may be affected.
NPS MedicineWise are posting regular 15min podcasts to help Health Professionals stay up to date with the latest evidence for medicines, tests and treatments, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest episode is Episode 20: Medicines for COVID-19 – where did we land?
In this episode NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris catches up with Executive Director of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce A/Prof Julian Elliott. They discuss how 2020 played out in terms of the top medicines that were touted as treatments for COVID-19, the emerging areas of evidence, and how clinicians on the ground have been applying the living guidelines.
Find it on the NPS MedicineWise website: https://www.nps.org.au/podcast/episode-20-medicines-for-covid-19-where-did-we-land
Details of the holiday season closure including ordering and delivery dates for metro and regional areas of WA have been emailed to immunisation providers. For closure dates/delivery dates please refer to the WA Health Online Ordering site (TOLL) for information specific to your area.
The final vaccine deliveries for 2020 will be made in accordance with your scheduled day (during the fortnight period Monday 7 to Friday 18 December 2020). Deliveries resume the week commencing Tuesday 5 January 2021.
For 2020 seasonal influenza vaccine expiry, a new on-line form will be used for providers to report all government-funded influenza vaccines that are discarded due to expiry.
As varying influenza vaccine products were supplied with different expiry dates, you may need to complete the on-line wastage form more than once.
The Cold chain breach and vaccine wastage report form has been updated to reflect this change, and should continue to be used to record CCB incidents and non-influenza expiry.
We take this opportunity to remind immunisation providers to ensure staff continue to manage the rotation of non-influenza vaccine products within your fridge, to ensure the shortest shelf life are used first. This will reduce vaccine wastage due to expiry.
For further guidance please visit https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Cold-chain-management
The WA Department of Health has developed a new resource for patients receiving the Zostavax® vaccine. The Zostavax® vaccine is funded under the National Immunisation Program for people aged 70 to 79 years; the Australian Immunisation Handbook provides the current guidance on vaccine screening.
Health professionals are reminded that, on rare occasions, disseminated varicella-zoster virus infection can occur in patients following administration of Zostavax® vaccine. Patients should be advised to seek medical attention if they become unwell after receiving Zostavax®, and to ensure that they mention their vaccination history to their treating health professional.
This resource will be shipped out automatically with any future Zostavax orders. To order this new fridge magnet resource, you will need to visit the WA Health online publication ordering system and search for 'Zostavax'. Your order will be delivered within ten (10) working days.
This new resource provides support and information for immunisation providers to assist them in understanding delegations in HPOS to enable access to the Australian Immunisation Register for nurses and other support staff. It can be found here.
This resource can also be found here on the Practice Assist website.
Central Australian Rural Practitioners Association have made a training video and are looking for feedback.
Please view the video here (7 minutes) and then complete the 13 questions which take less than 3 minutes to answer. Click here for the survey.
This evaluation has ethics approval from the Northern Territory Department of Health and Menzies School of Health Research HREC 2020-3807.
If you have any concerns, please contact Tobias Speare - Flinders University - Centre for Remote Health
A collaborative research team from Bond University, the University of Wollongong, University of Notre Dame Australia and Sydney University, is conducting a survey of GPs, Nurses and Allied health professionals’ experiences in using telehealth during COVID-19.
GPs, Nurses and Allied health professionals working in primary care are invited to participate in the survey to share your experiences of using telehealth during COVID-19, along with understanding how telehealth was used in your practice, its barriers and facilitators, and thoughts about future uses in this short 10 minute survey. Take the survey here.
A new field to capture vaccine serial number was added to the AIR site on 16 December 2020.
The addition of this field will support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across Australia and assist Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to track all vaccines administered to the public as outlined in the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
It is not mandatory for vaccination providers to record vaccine serial numbers at this time.
Further advice about recording COVID-19 vaccines on the AIR will be provided soon.
2020 has seen the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus bringing with it significant health implications. Listed below are several websites and podcasts designed to keep both healthcare providers and the general public up to date with developments occurring around the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia.
The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have developed a COVID-19 related web page that answers some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines. They will be updating this page regularly.
The page can be viewed here
Do you find you have patients asking questions about COVID-19 vaccines? The Australian Government Department of Health has developed a news and information hub for Australians about the development, approval process and plans for COVID-19 vaccines. The information hub can be accessed here
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has developed a dedicated COVID-19 vaccines resource page.
This page will be regularly updated to keep consumers, health professionals and sponsors informed of the latest developments. Access the resource hub here
Over the past 7 months, the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre have presented a COVID-19 vaccination podcast delving into the global pursuit of a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The podcasts explore this complicated and multi-faceted process through interviews with a variety of national and international vaccine experts. Listen to all the previous episodes from this podcast series that explores the global pursuit to find a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19 with exerts from Australia and abroad. Listen here
The ANU Medical School's Academic Unit of General Practice is leading the Australian arm of an international research for policy project. This rolling survey is taking place in the USA, Canada, Australia and NZ.
They are hoping to track the response and capacity of primary care practices to deal with COVID-19 as well as the ongoing impact of the pandemic on "usual" general practice.
The survey takes < 5 minutes to complete, take the survey here.
In light of the recent Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) Afghanistan Inquiry, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) have complied a comprehensive list of support services that are available to veterans and their families needing assistance at this time.
The DVA is encouraging health professionals to display posters and flyers highlighting the confidential counselling services to the community and providers supporting veterans.
For more information and the access downloadable posters and flyers click here.
As a part of the WA Healthy Weight Action Plan, WA Primary Health Alliance(WAPHA) is developing a web-based platform, housing tools and resources to enable General Practice clinicians to provide weight management detection and intervention services to their patients. The project focusses on improving accessibility to existing weight management tools and resources and developing resources where there are gaps, with a focus on practice quality improvement.
WAPHA is establishing a GP Clinical Content Working Group to guide the selection and development of resources and tools to inform project deliverables. This Working Group is anticipated to run until mid-2021.
Participation in this working group is invited from Psychologists, Dietitions GP’s and Practice Nurses, and paid as per WA Primary Health Alliance’s Paid Participation Policy. Members will be asked to undertake some work between meetings.
Please express your interest before COB Thursday 24th December 2020, by clicking here.
For further information click here, or contact Kate Iwanowski via email or call 08 6272 4992
Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia. People drink alcohol for a range of reasons and in different social and cultural contexts, but alcohol can cause harm to the person who drink and sometimes to others around them.
The National Health and Medical Research Council ‘NHMRC’ has guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. The guidelines provide health professionals, policy makers and the Australian community with evidence-based advice on the health effects of drinking alcohol. They also help people make informed decisions about how much alcohol they drink, if any.
This page describes the guidelines’ recommendations and includes resources available to apply them in daily life.
The full guidelines and underpinning evidence documents are available on our alcohol publication page.
View resources here
Guideline 1: Reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm for adults
To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.
The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.
Guideline 2: Children and people under 18 years of age
To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.
Guideline 3: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
A. To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol.
B. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol and the underpinning evidence documents are available on the NHMRC alcohol publication page.
You can read the full media release here.
For further information contact the NHMRC firstname.lastname@example.org
The Summer Burst Media Campaign has launched across Perth Metro and the South West and will run until the end of January 2021. We encourage all practices in the pilot to ensure their online bookings and your webpages are activated as an option for patients to book a ‘GP Urgent Care’ appointment.
Monthly MEDrefer Reminder
Practices are required to run a report on the GP Urgent Patients seen for the month of December and ensure the patients information is submitted through MEDrefer as a requirement for the Pilot.
Training for GP Urgent Care Practices
Benchmarque Group EOI Now Active for 2021
Ten planned training sessions will be available across Perth Metro, South West and Country Regions from February 2021, consisting of online learning, face to face workshop delivery and post program student survey and summary.
CTEC, Medical School - University of Western Australia:
CTEC have been commissioned by WAPHA to facilitate a series of one day wound closure and wound management courses.
Planned training sessions:
All training information is available on the WAPHA GP Urgent Care webpage.
For further information please email email@example.com or call 0429 126 925
In this month’s Better Health, Together video, WA Primary Health Alliance CEO, Learne Durrington sits down with ConnectGroups CEO, Antonella Segre to talk about our partnership to develop Stay Connected with Telehealth, a three-month program to raise awareness, educate and increase the use of telehealth among people diagnosed with a chronic condition. For further information and resources see the ConnectGroups website.
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) achieved Rainbow Tick accreditation in 2019, demonstrating our commitment to ensuring people of diverse sex, sexuality and/or gender have access to safe, inclusive and culturally appropriate primary health care.
As part of our maturing inclusive practice, WAPHA is establishing an LGBTIQ+ Stakeholder Reference Group to inform, guide and support our work.
We are calling for expressions of interest from experts in the field of LGBTIQ+ health service delivery and/or those with lived experience to provide insight and input to inform activities that improve and strengthen WAPHA’s inclusive practice and influence the practice of our stakeholders.
If that sounds like you, find out more and nominate here.
Nominations close 31 January 2021
Professional and personal pressures can arise for general practice teams at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.
To support GPs and practice staff to look after themselves and take the necessary steps to support their wellbeing, WA Primary Health Alliance is offering three free confidential counselling sessions via its Wellness Program.
Provided through AccessEAP, and available to all WA-based general practice staff, the program offers confidential sessions with a counsellor who can offer information and assistance in navigating the COVID-19 response as well as other personal and professional issues.
Issues that can be addressed during counselling sessions include:
GPs and practice staff can also contact Practice Assist by calling 1800 2 ASSIST or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the program.
For more information please visit the Practice Assist COVID-19 Well-being and Support webpage.
The Treating Alcohol and Drugs in Primary Care (TADPole) program is funded by the WA Primary Health Care Alliance (WAPHA) with the primary aim of increasing the capacity of the WA primary care workforce to provide alcohol and drug treatment and support.
From February 2021 the TADPole team will be delivering interactive small group lunch sessions for GPs and practice nurses on alcohol addiction and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, including information regarding parent child attachment from an Aboriginal culturally appropriate framework.
Lunch will be provided for this CPD activity which will attract 2 points as part of the RACGP CPD program.
For further information view the flyer here for full details and register your interest today!
This interactive accredited activity provides opportunities for collaboration and an understanding of a variety of professional perspectives on pain assessment and management.
Participants invited to this event include GPs, practice nurses, occupational therapists, addiction counsellors, psychologists, pharmacists and neurological nurses.
View the flyer here
While general practices are not among those businesses required by the WA Government to maintain a contact register, they are encouraged to do so.
The WA Government has provided a SafeWA guide for business that includes the necessary steps to set up a contact register.
The use of the free SafeWA contact register app is encouraged, because it is easy to use, hygienic, protects patrons’ privacy and is efficient for contact tracing. However, a paper-based register is also a possibility.
To ensure inclusive access, businesses opting to use the app must also have a manual method of registering visitor details, such as a paper-based register.
The WA Government has developed a suggested format for businesses to use for paper-based registers.
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
Visit our Webinars & Workshops page at www.practiceassist.com.au for the events calendar.
Managing pain: a team approach
Presented by TADPole