Practice Connect #110

21 January 2021

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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Australia's biggest ever immunisation program - what you need to know

Following Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approvals, the Australian Government plans to commence its national COVID-19 vaccination program in February, starting with priority populations (including aged care and disability care residents and workers; frontline healthcare workers; quarantine and border workers).
As more doses become available, as many Australians as possible will be encouraged  to receive a vaccination for COVID-19 in line with the national Vaccine and Treatment Strategy.
All accredited General Practices will be invited to submit an expression of interest (EOI) to participate in delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to priority populations from Phase 1b of the national roll-out strategy, planned to commence in March 2021.
Final locations to participate in the Phase 1b rollout will be determined by the Australian Government Department of Health, in consultation with states and territories, with assistance from Primary Health Networks. Proposed sites will be selected with consideration to suitability, amenity, efficiency, ability to reach the priority population, geographical coverage and sustainability. As the rollout progresses, all accredited General Practices willing and able to administer the vaccinations will be invited to participate in the program.
Further information on the EOI process is expected to be released by the Australian Government in the coming days and will be provided in this update as soon as it comes to hand.

Key points relating to commencement of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy:

  •  In Western Australia, Stage 1a will include one metropolitan and four regional distribution sites
  • All vaccinations will require two doses, with the optimum timing of doses yet to be determined
  • All vaccinations will use multi-dose vials
  • Every dose will be tracked and there will be legislation to ensure providers who administer the vaccine submit the information into the Australian Immunisation Register
  • All vaccinators will be required to undertake mandatory education. This is likely to include education around multi-dose vials and a separate package on the vaccination being administered. 

Information on vaccine development and the WA Health response is also located on the WA Health website  and you can subscribe to receive regular COVID-19 Vaccine Updates from WA Health or Australian Government Department of Health.


Register for our Preparing for COVID-19 Immunisation webinar – Thursday 28 January

The Preparing for COVID-19 Immunisation webinar is a panel discussion which aims to provide GPs and providers information about the rollout strategy at both a state and national level. Topics will include: the role general practices will play, operational considerations, vaccine safety and efficacy, the state rollout plan and the expression of interest process. On Thursday 28 January at 7pm.  Hosted by Geraldine Mellet, the panel discussion will feature:
  • Operational considerations for general practice and GPs - Dr Richard Choong, Board Chair WAPHA and GP practice principal
  • Vaccine safety and efficacy - A/Professor Christopher Blyth, Co-chair Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI)
  • State roll out plan – Senior Medical Advisor, Communicable Disease Control Directorate, WA Department of Health
  • Overview of vaccine roll out to general practice and EOI process - Bernie Kenny, General Manager WAPHA
To register please click here.



Stay up to date with COVID-19 Vaccine Developments

WA Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccination – new webpage

WA Department of Health has a new webpage COVID-19 vaccination. This page has up to date information on what is happening in WA, covering topics of vaccine development and the WA Health response.  Register to receive the Department's COVID-19 e-newsletter and view past editions.


Australia's Epidemiology and COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap

The Australian Government has recently published its COVID-19 Vaccine National Rollout Strategy identifying:
  • Priority populations for vaccination, and the phases in which vaccines will be provided in Australia.
  • Details for how vaccines will reach frontline healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers, and aged and disability care residents and workers.
  • Initial locations, across Australia, at which vaccines will be administered.
WA Primary Health Alliance is awaiting further information from the Australian Government Department of Health regarding the COVID-19 vaccination roll out plan for Western Australia.  We understand this advice will be made available within the next fortnight.

The latest COVID-19 vaccination updates from the Australian Government Department of Health can be found here.



COVID-19 HealthPathways updates

The following content updates have now been published on the HealthPathways website:

Added a link to information on WA’s controlled interstate border arrangements, conditions of entry and quarantine. Added information on the new MBS items available until the 30th of June 2022 for residential aged care facility (RACF) residents.

Updated information on COVID-19 testing criteria effective as of the 8th of January 2021.


Newly Localised Pathways

To access HealthPathways please email the HealthPathways team at



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.
These are some of our new and or updated resources in our Resource Library.

Clinical Resources


Nurses in General Practice

Programs and National Schemes

Nurses in General Practice

General Practice Accreditation

If you have an idea for a new resource or feedback on our current resources, please email with ideas and comments.




Practice Assist Resources - MBS items for care recipients in RACF

December saw the introduction of a range of temporary Medicare Benefit Schedule item numbers 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. These items are available from 10 December 2020 until 30 June 2022, allowing access to the Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative for clients in RACF’s.
To help navigate these temporary item numbers we now have a suite of factsheets available on the Practice Assist Medicare Australia ToolKit page.
We have also added a new factsheet, MBS attendance items for use in RACF’s. This factsheet addresses the MBS item numbers for GP and Other Medical Practitioners use in attendances to RACF’s not associated with COVID-19.
For further information please see:



Practice resources: back to school

As we look towards school recommencing in early February 2021 there are many children who will need to see their primary healthcare provider.


Children beginning or changing schools in 2020 will need to provide up to date immunisation records as part of their enrolment.

The Department of Health poster ‘Starting or moving schools – immunisation records’ is available on the Practice Assist Website.

Asthma, Diabetes, Allergy and Anaphylaxis Action Plans

Parents of children diagnosed with Asthma, Diabetes or Allergy/Anaphylaxis conditions may be required to provide the school, kindergarten or day care centre with an action plan to outline the required immediate treatment required in an emergency.  These plans should be developed with the input of the child’s primary care team.  Guidelines are provided on the Department of Health’s Healthy WA Website
NPS MedicineWise also has education visits available for GP education on Asthma management of pre-school and school aged children.  To request a visit, go to: NPS Medicinewise or call (02) 8217 8700.

Templates for action plans can be found at


Children with Medical Conditions or Special Needs

Children with medical conditions or special needs may be required to provide details to the school or day care facility in the day to day management, including medications, of the child’s condition.  Some parents may need assistance with the Student health Care Summary forms and health management plans if required.  Schools will provide these forms to parents as part of the child’s enrolment. More information is available on the Department of Education Website.



Active Ingredient Prescribing

From 1 February 2021 it will be mandatory for all Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions to include the active ingredient, followed by brand if the prescriber believes it is clinically necessary.
The goal of this initiative is to help people understand what medicines they are taking and to reduce the risk of people accidentally taking multiple doses of the same medicine under different names. Other benefits include allowing pharmacists to easily dispense an alternative generic medicine if the patient’s usual brand is unavailable and a potential reduction in out of pocket costs to patients and the PBS via increase uptake of generic medicines.
The legislation excludes handwritten prescriptions, paper-based medication charts in the residential aged care sector, medicinal items with four or more active ingredients; and some other items excluded for safety or practicality reasons.


Information on prescribing changes and your clinical software contact your software provider:

Consumer information and resources see:  
Prescriber information and resources see:



PIPQI: A reminder to Practices

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Quality Improvement (QI) quarter will be ending on 31 January. Practices must ensure they have met the requirements of the PIP QI program in order to be eligible for payment, including the requirement to share data at least once each quarter. Practices had until the 15th of this month to share data with WAPHA. Any data shared after this date will not be accepted for this quarter. If your practice has not shared data at least once this quarter and does not hold a valid exemption from the Australian Department of Health, please contact your Primary Health Liaison or Comprehensive Primary Care Facilitator urgently.



Vaccine safety in Australia - AusVaxSafety summary report 2019

AusVaxSafety is a national system monitoring vaccine safety in Australia and a recent report details how people receiving vaccines responded to an SMS about their health a few days after vaccination. The report is available on the Department of Health website.



Medical Director version 4.0 error with 12-month schedule point

It has been noted that a tick box is missing for PREVENAR13 from the 12-month-old schedule point under the immunisation tab in Medical Director 4.0. This only applies to the latest version 4.0 and Medical Director have indicated it will be amended in the next update due to be released in early 2021.
For practices using version 4.0 they will need to enter this additional PREVENAR13 vaccine information using the Enter another type of vaccination box located at the bottom left of the immunisation tab.
Practices are reminded to always refer to the current state or territory immunisation schedule in addition to checking a patient’s vaccination history on AIR.
Contact Medical Director for further information.



New MumBubVax Website

Tools and resources are now available on the new MumBubVax website to improve conversations about vaccination between health care providers and expectant parents
MumBubVax is a new evidence-based communication package to use in primary care or maternity services. It aims to improve conversations about vaccination between health care providers and expectant parents and provides eLearning modules for providers and a website for expectant parents. The new website can be accessed here.



Zostavax R information

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.
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.

Zostavax Safety Alert

Following a third report of fatal disseminated vaccine strain varicella-zoster virus infection following Zostavax administration, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is reminding health professionals that Zostavax should not be used in people with compromised immune function.
Healthcare professionals should carefully assess patients for potentially immunocompromising conditions. The Australian Immunisation Handbook has recently been updated to provide more detailed guidance on the use of Zostavax in patients who are immunocompromised or on immunosuppressive therapy, including:

  • Further information on pre-vaccination screening (including serology for past varicella-zoster virus infection where relevant).
  • The list of immunosuppressive therapies where administration of Zostavax is considered safe has been expanded.
  • The adverse events section has been updated to include detailed information on the management of varicella or zoster-like rash following Zostavax administration.

A pre-vaccination checklist for Zostavax administration can be found here. This checklist should be completed prior to the administration of Zostavax.



National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) - New Online Portal and Clinical Software Integration

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) supports Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and National Cervical Screening Program by inviting, reminding and following up participants for screening. It also helps healthcare providers make decisions about their patients’ health care.
The NCSR has introduced an online Healthcare Provider Portal providing a new way to interact with the National Register. It will also soon be releasing an Integration with Clinical Software.  The new functionality will support better patient care by allowing healthcare providers and pathologists to access and submit patients bowel and cervical screening program-related data at any time of the day.​ Find out more about the new portal by watching this short animation. For information on the new Clinical Software Integration watch here.

User Guides and Support Materials

For HealthPathways to support screening see:

For more information contact or call the Contact Centre on 1800 627 701



Wanted: Health Professionals in Mirrabooka, Balga and surrounding North Metro area

As part of the WAPHA funded North Metro Foot Initiative (NMFI), Diabetes WA are seeking valuable input and participation from Health Professionals – in particular GPs and Practice Nurses –who are involved in the care of patients living with diabetes in the Mirrabooka, Balga and surrounding North Metropolitan area.

What for?

To participate in a short, 15-minute interview with a Credentialled Diabetes Educator, either via telephone or face to face appointment* in order to:

  • Share your experiences in caring for people living with diabetes
  • Share your experiences in caring for patients requiring treatment at a diabetic foot clinic
  • Suggest barriers for health professionals in providing diabetes-related treatment to patients
  • Suggest barriers for patients in seeking or accessing diabetes-related treatment

 *Please note that your time is billable and can be funded under the project.


Your input and experience is invaluable. The Balga - Mirrabooka area has rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations from chronic conditions that are 1.5 times the state average, including a relatively high population of individuals admitted with a high-risk foot diagnosis. We want to better understand the issues that are contributing to this statistic from as many points of view as possible.

Further Information

If you would like to take part please telephone1300 001 880 and leave a message for the project manager, Shona Vigus. Alternatively, you can email her directly here.

Download flyer information here.



Alcohol and Pregnancy 'One Drink' Campaign

The Alcohol Think Again ‘One Drink’ campaign is a joint initiative between the Mental Health Commission (MHC) and Cancer Council Western Australia, and forms one part of a broader Preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Project led by the MHC.
The ‘One Drink’ campaign aims to increase the proportion of the Western Australian community who are aware that there is no safe amount or time to drink alcohol when pregnant.

The campaign launched on 12 January 2021 and will run with four key bursts of activity until May 2022. The media strategy is led by state-wide TV, and supported by cinema, radio, out-of-home advertising, digital and social advertising and paid search.



NPS MedicineWise

NPS MedicineWise update – accredited webinars for GPs, Nurses and Pharmacists, now available as on-demand recordings
Webinars are increasingly popular as an effective way to participate in an educational activity, particularly with the restrictions of COVID-19. We have recently hosted a number of webinars with expert panels discussing challenges in diagnosis, treatment and management of different health conditions.
These webinar recordings are available to be watched at your convenience.

Please visit the NPS MedicineWise webinars page for further information.



GP Urgent Care Updates

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. A reminder email will be sent the last week of January 2021.

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. Please note due to Covid these sessions have been delayed to March.

  • Wound Closure
  • Peripheral Intravenous (IV) Cannulation Program
  • Cast application and immobilisation – non accredited
  • Wound management

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:

  • Course Two – 12 places per course - 20 February 2021
  • Course three and Four – 12 places per course dates TBC

Further information regarding GP Urgent Care training is available on the WA Primary Health Alliance GP Urgent Care webpage.
Interested in becoming part of the General Practice Urgent Care Network Pilot?
For further information please email or contact the Project Officer, Cheryl Bell on 0429 126 925.



GP Urgent Care Good News Story: Ellen Health & Canning Medical Centre

Ellen Health & Canning Medical Centre joined the GP Urgent Care Network Pilot at its launch in September 2019.

To enable both practices to respond in the best way to GP Urgent Care appointment needs, Karen and Tania, Practices Managers from Ellen Health and Canning Medical Centre hold daily telephone meetings to discuss patient appointment availabilities across both practices.

This ensures that they can accommodate walk in patients and offer them an appointment at either practice that best suits their needs or is conveniently located.
This offers patients the flexibility of time and place to be seen by a GP on that day, this is a great example of General Practice collaboration and patient experience within the GPUC network.



Nominations now open for our LGBTIQ+ Stakeholder Reference Group

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



Wellbeing support at hand during stressful times for WA general practice teams

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:

  • Preparing for major life changes
  • Changes at work
  • Changes within family (marriage, new baby, divorce/separation)
  • Goal setting for professional or personal life
  • Developing new strategies for handling stress at work or at home
  • Or simply to have someone to speak to about any of life’s inevitable challenges

To book a confidential phone or video counselling appointment, you can call AccessEAP anytime on 1800 818 728.

You will need to identify as a WA Primary Health Alliance member.

GPs and practice staff can also contact Practice Assist by calling 1800 2 ASSIST or emailing with any questions about the program.
For more information please visit the Practice Assist COVID-19 Well-being and Support webpage.



Allocation of surgical masks from the National 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



Treating Alcohol and other Drugs in Primary Care (TADPole), Small Group sessions

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!

TADPOLE - Managing pain: a team approach

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



Health Promotion Events

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – It’s Time for OVARY-ACTION

Each year in Australia around 1,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In most cases the cancer will be diagnosed at an advanced stage, where it is very difficult to treat.  For the state of ovarian cancer to improve, major changes are needed in awareness, treatment and funding.

Teal Ribbon Day

In 2021, Teal Ribbon Day will be held on Wednesday 24 February. It’s a day to support Australians affected by ovarian cancer, honour those lost, and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations.

Get involved

  • Brochures, Signs and Symptoms Infographics and a Symptom Diary are available to download and use in your practice here.
  • For resources to support Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Teal Ribbon Day click here.
  • Host a Teal Tea for Ovarian Cancer on Monday 1 February, resources and registration available here.
  • Or for the adventurous join the Teal Outback Trek

For more information see Ovarian Cancer Australia

Coming up soon…
World Leprosy Day January 24
Heart Research Month February 1-28
Wear Red Week for Heart Research February 8-14
FebFast February 1-28
International Childhood Heart Disease Month February 1-28



Education and training

Visit our Webinars & Workshops page at for the events calendar.

Preparing for COVID-19 Immunisation
Presented by WA Primary Health Alliance
Thursday 28 January
Diabetes & Technology
Presented by Diabetes WA
Monday 1 February
Pregnancy & Pre-Existing Diabetes
Presented by Diabetes WA
Tuesday 9 February
Making your life easier with Digital health
Presented by AAPM
Thursday 4 February

Managing pain: a team approach
Presented by TADPole

Saturday 6 March
Treating Alcohol and other Drugs in Primary Care
Presented by Systems and Interventions Research Centre for Health
Multiple Dates
Cervical Screening for nurses
Presented by Sexual Head Quarters (SHQ)
Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 February
Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 May
FPAA Certificate in Reproductive and Sexual Health for Doctors
Presented by Sexual Head Quarters (SHQ)
Monday 15 and Friday 19 March
Practice Management Workshop
Presented by Rural Health West
Sunday 28 March
WA Rural Health Conference 2021
Presented by Rural Health West
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March
 Certificate in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Nursing)
Presented by Sexual Head Quarters (SHQ)
Monday 10 to Thursday 13 May
Contraceptive Implant training for Nurses
Presented by Sexual Head Quarters (SHQ)
Thursday 13 May
Rural Remote Retrieval Weekend 2021
Presented by Rural Health West
Thursday 13 to Sunday 16 May
Rural Anaesthesia Down Under Conference 2021
Presented by Rural Health West
Sunday 13 to Wednesday 16 June
2021 Wound Management Workshops: Rural
Presented by Clinical Design Solutions
Multiple dates (rural WA)
NEWFoundations of Spirometry in Primary Health Care
Presented by APNA
Online training
GP Framework for Child Mental Health Assessment
Presented by Emerging Minds
Online training
Diabetes in Practice for Nurses
Presented by Diabetes Qualified
Online training
COVID-19 Infection Control Training
Presented by Department of Health
Online training
Chronic Disease Mgmt 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.