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:
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.
The following content updates have now been published on the HealthPathways website:
Updated information on COVID-19 testing criteria effective as of the 8th of January 2021.
To access HealthPathways please email the HealthPathways team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
If you have an idea for a new resource or feedback on our current resources, please email email@example.com with ideas and comments.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
A pre-vaccination checklist for Zostavax administration can be found here. This checklist should be completed prior to the administration of Zostavax.
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.
For more information contact www.ncsr.gov.au or call the Contact Centre on 1800 627 701
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.
To participate in a short, 15-minute interview with a Credentialled Diabetes Educator, either via telephone or face to face appointment* in order to:
*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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Project Officer, Cheryl Bell on 0429 126 925.
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.
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 email@example.com with any questions about the program.
For more information please visit the Practice Assist COVID-19 Well-being and Support webpage.
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 Stockpile.Ops@health.gov.au.
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
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.
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.
For more information see Ovarian Cancer Australia
Visit our Webinars & Workshops page at www.practiceassist.com.au for the events calendar.
Managing pain: a team approach
Presented by TADPole