The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is aware that some European countries have paused vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clots following vaccination.
The TGA advises that a link between blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been confirmed.
To 11 March 2021, the TGA has received no reports of blood clots following use of the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1-S vaccine in Australia. Extensive international experience does not indicate an increased risk of blood clots associated with the vaccine.
Blood clots are considered 'adverse events of special interest', which are closely monitored in Australia and by overseas regulators.
If the TGA detects a safety concern they will take rapid action to address it and provide information to the public.
Read the full TGA advice here
WA Primary Health Alliance continues to support WA GPs, general practice staff and other primary health care providers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, most recently supporting the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Western Australia.
We received an overwhelming response to the Expression of Interest to participate in Phase 1b of the rollout, with more than 75% of WA’s general practices applying.
Many of those practices are now preparing for week 1 of the Phase 1b of National COVID-19 Vaccination rollout from Monday 22 March, when they will be offering free vaccinations to their own patients eligible for vaccination in this phase and other eligible people in the community who wish to book an appointment.
WAPHA is committed to providing timely and useful information and support in the lead up to and throughout Australia’s biggest and most complex vaccine campaign in the nation’s history.
This includes additional staff and phone lines for our Practice Assist service, webinars, thrice weekly e-news updates and bespoke support where required.
The Practice Assist COVID-19 information page continues to provide access to the latest information and resources and you can also stay up to date by subscribing to our COVID-19 GP Update and COVID-19 Immunisation Updates.
Practice Assist has published the following resources to support practices to respond to patient enquiries regarding COVID-19 vaccine bookings:
The Australian Government announced that it will extend support for telehealth services and care, along with MBS-subsidised telehealth to 30 June 2021.
Along with this announcement, we are also pleased to announce the extension of the healthdirect Video Call COVID-19 GP Program to 31 December 2021. This provides free Video Call access for general practitioners working in private practice and/or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
This module covers more advanced use of the platform. The course will also suit Practice Managers and anyone interested in how Video Call can reshape the provision of services to patients or clients. Register here for advanced training
For further information, or to register for access to the platform, please contact the healthdirect Video Call team or the WAPHA Digital Health Team
As the rollout of the COVID vaccinations gathers pace, timely access to details on the immunisation status of a consumer can be invaluable. My Health Record can provide access for both clinicians and consumers to their immunisation record as contained on the Australian Immunisation Record and includes details of COVID vaccinations. Within General Practice, immunisation records can be found on the Medicare Overview, alongside details of PBS medications and all MBS items claimed for an individual.
Support for healthcare providers to access the immunisation record via My Health Record is available from the Australian Digital Health Agency or via the Digital Health Team.
Consumers can access their My Health Record, including their immunisation record, via MyGov, and further support is available via the My Health Record website or the 24/7 freephone helpline on 1800 723 471
With Digital Tools such as My Health Record, ePrescribing, Secure Messaging and Telehealth increasingly being used in General Practice, the Digital Health Team continue to provide support and education on how these may best be integrated into your practice. The new Digital Health fact sheet gives guidance on setting up and using a number of different tools. Further support and training is available via email@example.com or via Practice Assist.
From March 2021, 16 new MBS items will be available to enable GPs and suitably qualified health professionals to assess patients for their suitability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment service is free to Medicare-eligible patients and the MBS items must be bulk billed. The full Medicare factsheet including examples of how the items can be used, can be found here.
We have created a Quick Guide for practices to use. It can be found here or in our Resource Library.
Further information on MBS items for COVID-19 can be found at HealthPathways – COVID-19 MBS Items.
All certified immunisation providers wanting to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination program in WA are required to complete the following training PRIOR to engaging in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
It is the responsibility of the participants to print out a certificate upon successful completion of each module to provide evidence when requested.
Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) Clinical guidance on use of COVID-19 vaccine in Australia in 2021 (v2.0)
This clinical guidance is for COVID-19 immunisation providers and program staff and is based on currently available data. It provides recommendations on the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty and the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine. It will be updated as new information and vaccines become available.
COVID-19 Vaccine - Update to consent form
The consent form for COVID-19 vaccinations has been updated. As of March 15, 2021. It now captures the individual’s name and Medicare number on each page.
View the updated consent form.
Patient Fact Sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – After your AstraZeneca vaccine
A patient fact sheet about what to expect after being given the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination has been released. This is a useful resource for patients to take home with them after they receive their COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
Information on the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine for the general public
This information sheet provides useful information on the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine. It is a useful resource to distribute to patients who are looking for more information on the vaccine.
The HealthPathways team are pleased to announce that the following pathway has recently gone live:
HealthPathways will continue to update pathways as new information and resources become available. To access HealthPathways please email the HealthPathways team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-allocation responses in the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) portal have now closed. The information submitted has been sent to the WA Department of Health for approval.
If you completed a submission for your practice you will receive an email when the final allocation numbers for your over 65 vaccines are available to view in the WAPHA portal and you will also receive an email from the distributer confirming your delivery information.
Allocations for the other cohorts will be confirmed in the following weeks.
The final allocation numbers apply to the fortnightly deliveries over the first six weeks of distribution of the Influenza Vaccines. After this time you will be able to access further supplies through the WA Health online vaccine ordering system.
For those who missed completing a submission for your practice, we will be contacting you to confirm details for the WA Health Department, for allocations during the initial six weeks of distribution of the Influenza Vaccines.
Please note, practices are still able to order private stock as per your normal process.
Further information and FAQ’s are available on the Practice Assist 2021 Government-Funded Influenza Immunisation Program for General Practice page.
The Immunisation Program is inviting all WA immunisation providers to the 2021 WA Influenza Program update session. This year we will be hosting the event via Microsoft Teams. The following FAQs will provide more information:
What are the event details?
The Immunisation Coalition’s annual Meningococcal Disease update for healthcare professionals was held on February 24, 2021.
The webinar recording can be viewed here
MedicineInsight from NPS MedicineWise
Has your practice considered MedicineInsight from NPS MedicineWise?
MedicineInsight is a data program that aims to support quality improvement in general practice and post-market surveillance of medicines. It was established by NPS MedicineWise with funding from the Australian Government.
The program draws monthly de-identified, longitudinal data from consenting general practices across Australia. The data is pooled and presented to participating practices in clinical summary reports. The reports support quality healthcare decisions at local, regional and national levels.
If you are interested in finding out more about MedicineInsight, talk to your NPS MedicineWise Educational Visitor or call Nicole Humphry at WAPHA on 08 6272 4921 (email email@example.com).
Further information is available on the NPS MedicineWise website https://www.nps.org.au/about-us/services/health-insights/medicineinsight.
The GP Urgent Care Network Pilot has reached its 18 months of operation milestone and WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), thanks you for your participation in the pilot project.
The Collaborative Health Analysis and Statistical Modelling (CHASM), which includes the University of Western Australia (UWA) Division of General Practice, is ready to complete the third piece of ethics approved evaluation on the pilot. This is a significant project milestone and will inform future pilot development by allowing us to test our assumptions and consider enhancements.
WAPHA is aware that practices and their staff will be preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and therefore are requesting that all GP Urgent Care patients’ consultations are uploaded to MEDrefer by Friday 19 March 2021, prior to the vaccine rollout to alleviate any undue additional pressures that have been placed on general practice.
Benchmarque Group Training
There are some places available for various training sessions across Perth Metro, South West and Country Regions, consisting of online learning, face to face workshop delivery and post program student survey and summary.
Information is available on the GP Urgent Care WAPHA webpage.
If you have any questions or queries, please contact Cheryl Bell Project Officer, GP Urgent Care Network Pilot Project: 0429 126 925 or Cheryl.Bell@wapha.org.au
With over 70 per cent of Western Australian adults and 25 per cent of children with a body mass index classified as overweight or obese, there is no single or simple solution to this complex issue that affects all of us.
Obesity isn’t just an issue of weight. The 4 March was World Obesity Day, highlighting the importance of understanding the root causes of obesity and what we need to do to address them.
We know there are strong social, biological and environmental drivers of obesity that are often outside of a person’s control and the shame, stigma and personal blame individuals can carry often acts as a barrier to seeking support. The narrative is shifting from one of personal responsibility to one of shared responsibility.
As a key partner in the WA Healthy Weight Action Plan 2019-2024, WA Primary Health Alliance is working on initiatives to address weight management in primary care. One of the initiatives is a centralised website housing tools, resources and education, to support general practice to play a more central role in helping people to manage their weight. With a focus on health in a holistic and person-centred way, this initiative acknowledges the long-term relationship GPs have with their patients and their ability to see the complete picture.
One of the resources to be included on the website will be an education package tailored towards general practice clinicians (GPs, practice nurses and dietitians) to provide upskilling and increase clinician confidence in engaging in meaningful and sensitive conversations with patients about their weight, the complexity of overweight and obesity and how to work with patients at the centre of treatment and provide ongoing support.
Through empowering clinicians with the skills and resources to understand the drivers and barriers to achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, and tools to help engage patients and guide them on their journey, we are hoping to drive long-term change.
Local consultation was undertaken in Phase 1 of the project to uncover the barriers and enablers general practice clinicians encounter. Through face-to-face interviews with GPs, practice nurses, dietitians and exercise physiologists, some common themes emerged.
Responsibility: General practice clinicians feel they are in an ideal position to talk to their patients about weight and provide ongoing support, however, feel they lack the skills needed to raise the topic and lack evidence-based interventions to assist their patients in weight management.
Cost and time: Cost and time are barriers to weight management, for both general practice clinicians and consumers of weight management interventions. Clinicians feel weight management services should be funded under the MBS, and current funding arrangements are insufficient to provide adequate time and suitable weight management options tailored to the individual.
Motivation: General practice clinicians feel they are well-placed to foster motivation in their patients; however, patients need to have a certain level of motivation to be successful in managing their weight.
Weight management interventions: A lack of accessible and cohesive services to refer patients for dedicated weight management interventions was identified. General practices had mixed feelings about engaging in tailored weight management interventions, with some practices managing in-house and others preferring to refer to external parties.
Mental health: A major theme in consumer data was mental health as a barrier to maintaining a healthy weight, how weight is tied to body image, the prevalence of disordered eating in individuals with overweight and obesity and the stigma, shame and self-blame associated with overweight and obesity. It is important both general practice clinicians and patients are aware of the role mental health can have in weight management.
These findings are informing the development of the website and the tools, resources and education to be included.
Find out more about the consultation and findings in the Weight Management in General Practice - Phase 1 Report.
Phase 2 of the project is currently underway, involving the establishment of a clinical content working group to decide on the specific tools and resources that will be included in the website. The group is made up of health system and consumer representatives as well as clinicians such as GPs, practice nurses, dietitians and psychologists working in the area of overweight and obesity, and disordered eating.
The website is expected to launch in the third quarter of 2021.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.wapha.org.au/health-professionals/healthy-weight-gp-project/ to keep up-to-date as the project progresses.
National Asthma Council Australia has been updating the “Managing asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic” page on the Australian Asthma Handbook regularly. Most recently, they’ve published advice on COVID-19 vaccination for people with asthma. This advice may change as more evidence merges and this information is updated.
East Metropolitan Health Service has developed a resource to help patients consider if a video or phone appointment is suitable for them.
The “My Outpatient Appointment: Is a phone or video appointment suitable for me?” checklist is available on the “For Patient and Visitors” pages on the Royal Perth Hospital, Bentley Health Service and Armadale Health Service websites.
GPs are welcome to use this resource and share it with their patients.
When referring patients, please discuss with your patients their preference for a video or phone appointment. If they wish for appointments to be provided virtually, please indicate this on the referral. Please include the patient’s email and mobile phone on the referral as this will assist in booking video and phone appointments.
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.
Lymphoedema, a permanent swelling that occurs due to a disruption or deficiency of the lymphatic system, is a known potential side effect of cancer treatment; however, there is still a lack of awareness of the condition in the community. Many people treated for cancer are unaware that they are at risk of developing lymphoedema.
The Australasian Lymphology Association (ALA), the peak body for lymphoedema management, research and education in Australia and New Zealand, is this year using Lymphoedema Awareness Month to promote early intervention for lymphoedema, which should include education, assessment, monitoring, physical activity and compression management. They are also seeking for patients to have a better understanding of the signs of lymphoedema, with early diagnosis and commencement of treatment leading to better outcomes. For this reason, they have developed a pamphlet to support raising awareness.
The 2021 Lymphoedema Awareness Month poster, and patient pamphlets are available on the ALA website https://www.lymphoedema.org.au/education-&-resources/lymphoedema-awareness-
campaign or printed versions can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming up soon......
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.
Here are some of our new and updated resources:
If you have an idea for a new resource or feedback on our current resources, please email email@example.com with ideas and comments.
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.
Visit our Webinars & Workshops page at www.practiceassist.com.au for the events calendar.