Last week’s start of Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was a significant milestone, with the vaccine now available to more than six million Australians.
While not without its challenges, WA Primary Health Alliance is doing its upmost to provide information and support to general practices in Phase 1b and beyond, during this once in a lifetime public health program.
We received an overwhelming response to the Expression of Interest (EOI) to participate in Phase 1b, with more than 570 EOIs or close to 75% of WA’s general practices applying.
Of those, about 490 practices are involved in Phase 1b of the rollout, offering free vaccinations to both their own patients and others who wish to book an appointment.
The Clarkson GP Respiratory Clinic is one of about 490 general practices across
WA taking part in the Phase 1b vaccine rollout. They reported a successful first
day of running their COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
To support them, we are bolstering our practice support team with additional staff and phone lines, running regular information webinars, sending three e-news updates a week, and providing bespoke support where required.
Our aged care sector relationships deepen
Importantly, in the past month, our remit to support the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine
n Western Australia has also seen us build and deepen our relationships with the residential aged care sector.
Our interactions with aged care peak bodies Leading Aged Services Australia and Aged and Community Services Australia, have been both informative and fruitful in building
our understanding of their members’ and their residents’ needs.
Our support for residential aged care facilities includes pre-vaccine visit phone calls, weekly e-news updates, dedicated web pages, webinars and individual follow ups by our aged care coordinator to ensure quality control and continuous improvement.
Additionally, we have built a profile of the many general practitioners who provide services for aged care residents, which has allowed us to engage with GPs and appraise them of the program, allowing them to provide support to the aged care staff, residents and their families, including by providing advice on medical suitability to receive the vaccine.
In the context of the national picture as of 28 March, WA’s progress was impressive and we continue to work closely with the Commonwealth government’s vaccine workforce provider, to maintain and improve systems and processes.
All ordering and stock management for general practices should occur through the online portal (CVAS) noting:
Site codes for Week 4 practices commencing Monday 5 April were sent Friday 26 March, and all Week 4 orders were due by midnight Monday 29 March (for delivery during Week 4).
This due date was for all weekly cohorts.
Once all weekly cohorts have been onboarded, a regular ordering cycle will be implemented. The Australian Government Department of Health will soon provide further advice.
The online COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker and Site Finder has been updated and people under 18 years are no longer prompted to book through the vaccine clinic finder.
If individuals under the age of 18 present for vaccination they should not be given an AstraZeneca vaccine, even if they meet broader Phase 1b criterion.
Whilst Pfizer is approved for people aged 16 years and above, discussions are underway with the states and territories to ascertain if Pfizer hubs can be accessed by people who are aged between 16 and 18 years and eligible in Phase 1b.
At this stage states and territories are continuing to prioritise their 1a population.
The following content updates have now been published on the HealthPathways site:
COVID-19 Assessment and Management
Updated to include new self-isolation information sheets for:
To access HealthPathways please email the HealthPathways team at firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have jointly prepared a comprehensive resource that uniquely provides information and answers questions about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People available to download here.
The Australian Government Department of Health has updated a range of vaccine resources for patients in an easy to print format:
Cancer Australia has released information on the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer. This includes a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the COVID-19 vaccines and cancer, and links to health professional guidance and research articles. This webpage is available at https://www.canceraustralia.gov.au/covid-19-vaccine-and-cancer.
The Australian Government Department of Health website has been updated to provide all general and clinical information on COVID-19 vaccination in one location, rather than multiple stand-alone FAQ documents. Visit:
Information will be updated as needed.
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) is committed to supporting general practice as the cornerstone of successful primary health care and the key to ensuring we have a high-quality, equitable and sustainable health system in Western Australia.
In response to the new primary health care landscape, WAPHA has restructured our general practice support teams. We will embed WAPHA’s new structure for general practice support, innovation and development by 1 July 2021 and will continue to update you and your practice staff as regards these changes and what they mean for you.
Click here for more information, or view the restructure summary here.
Would you like to enhance your practice’s digital capability with new information technology (IT) equipment to take part in virtual programs, such as telehealth video consultations, webinars, online meetings and more?
To support general practices across Western Australia, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) is providing GP Innovation Grants of up to $1,500 per practice, including GST. for the purchase of information technology (IT) equipment to participate in virtual programs.
Don’t miss this one-time-only opportunity to take advantage of WAPHA’s GP Innovation Grants, which are being allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
To apply for a grant, log in to the WAPHA portal and submit the online application form by the closing date of Friday 23 April 2021. If required, email Practice Assist for log in details.
For more information about WAPHA’s GP Innovation Grants and the online application process, view the fact sheet, email Practice Assist or call 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478).
Please note: WAPHA’s GP Innovation Grants are designed to assist general practices with limited digital capability. As a result, corporate practices or legal entities with multiple practices can only apply for a grant for a maximum of four of their practices. Corporate practices and these legal entities should contact their head office before they apply for a grant
Deliveries of Influenza Vaccines in the 2021 Pre-allocation system for the over 65 year old cohort have begun to arrive at practices. Further cohorts in the pre-allocation period will become available for delivery shortly.
Practices are reminded that when viewing allocations of influenza vaccines in the WA Primary Health Alliance Portal, you are only be able to see cohort allocations and deliveries as they are approved by the WA Department of Health. As allocations are dependent on vaccine stock availability, we are unable to advise on timelines for future approvals.
For practices that did not participate in the pre-allocations, you will be able to order government-funded vaccines through the WA Health online ordering system. You will be notified by the vaccine order team when the ordering system is open for orders.
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 WA Department of Health’s Immunisation Program hosted the 2021 WA Influenza Program information session
on 22 March 2021 for all immunisation providers of WA, covering the following topics:
The recording can be viewed here.
For more information regarding the 2021 influenza program in Western Australia, please visit the Influenza immunisation program website.
We have anecdotal reports of practices charging patients to see a doctor prior to their vaccination booking. The below message is currently on our website:
‘Vaccination providers cannot charge to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is free for everyone in Australia and the consult appointment for patients to receive their vaccinations is also free. Charging a patient any costs associated with the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination (including booking fees) is a breach of the requirements under the program. Patients without a Medicare card can be vaccinated for free at Commonwealth-funded GP-led Respiratory Clinics’.
The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) and the WA Department of Health are offering scholarships to support regional WA people to attend the 17th National Immunisation Conference 2021 to be held from Tuesday 29 June to Thursday 1 July 2021 in Perth.
The scholarships will be offered to applicants based in non-metropolitan regions of WA who may otherwise be unable to attend such a conference. The scholarship can be used to cover travel and/or accommodation costs.
For scholarship eligibility and to apply see here
The national roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines commenced on 22 February 2021, and AusVaxSafety is conducting active vaccine safety surveillance of the vaccines in use. The vaccines currently being supplied are Comirnaty BNT162b2 (mRNA), sponsored by Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd, and COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, sponsored by AstraZeneca.
Surveillance data have been provided by Vaxtracker and SmartVax based on surveys sent on Day 3 after the vaccination, and data presented here are from surveys received up to 28 March 2021. These data are updated weekly.
Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia are currently participating in AusVaxSafety COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance. Tasmania and Victoria will commence participation soon.
AusVaxSafety active vaccine safety surveillance system complements the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) enhanced safety surveillance activities. View the TGA COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report here. Find out more about how the TGA monitors the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and how you can report side effects on the TGA website.
The National Centre for Immunisation Surveillance and Research (NCIRS) have released a new resource titled ‘Meningococcal B vaccination - a guide for healthcare providers’ to facilitate effective communication about meningococcal B vaccination.
View the resource here.
Choosing Wisely is a global health initiative offering General Practice a suite of resources to enable clinicians and consumers to start important conversations about tests, treatments and procedures. A key objective of Choosing Wisely is to empower people to obtain the appropriate information and advice they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare, while at the same time supporting health professionals to initiate conversations that explore options, necessity and risks.
In this month’s Better Health, Together video, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) CEO, Learne Durrington speaks with Dr Lyn Wren of Quinns Mindarie Super Clinic about her practice’s reflections on their involvement in the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) program. The program aims to build high performing practices in Western Australia and create capacity and capability within practices to offer more patient centred care.
Watch the video here.
Wirraka Maya Aboriginal community health service has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients.
Over 2020, the Wirraka Maya Health Service uploaded the ninth highest number of
Shared Health Summaries in Western Australia – this is a summary of a patient’s key health information, and the highest number of Event Summaries in the state - this is a summary of a key consultation to My Health Record. Also, the health service has viewed more uploaded documents than any other primary care provider in Western Australia.
A key benefit to patients is that they can use the Shared Health Summaries and prescription information that have been uploaded by Wirraka Maya as proof of any underlying health conditions so they can obtain an early Covid-19 vaccination.
Senior Medical Officer at Wirraka Maya Health Service in Port Hedland, WA, Dr Yolande Knight said: “We rely on My Health Record to keep us updated on patient pathology, imaging, medication, dispensing and history records.
WA Primary Health Alliance General Manager, Primary Care Innovation and
Development, Bernadette Kenny, said “This is the result of the whole team at Wirraka Maya working together and understanding the real benefits to their community when it comes to utilising the digital health services available to them. Their exemplary use of My Health Record ensures their clients are supported throughout their health journey both in the Pilbara and beyond by providing vital clinical information at a time when it is most needed.”
To read more on this outstanding use of My Health Record click here.
Up to 400 general practitioners will train to work in regional Australia over the next four years, with the establishment today of the Coalition Government's Rural Generalist Training Scheme (RGTS) to boost doctor numbers in the bush. The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) will deliver the Government-funded $49.7 million program, with ACRRM providing up to 100 Rural Generalist GP training places each year. Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, said the end goal of the RGTS is for patients to have increased access to primary health services in rural and remote communities. "Rural and remote communities want safe and high-quality primary healthcare services delivered by well-trained GPs with training in an extended rural skill set," Minister Coulton said. Read the full media release here
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
Professor Paul Kelly Chief Medical Officer, Australian Government Department of Health has released an important update regarding an increase in notifications of infectious syphilis in women of reproductive age in Australia.
Notifications of infectious syphilis among non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of reproductive age have substantially increased, particularly in major cities of Australia, posing an increased risk of congenital syphilis and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
To read the full update click here.
The Australian Government is investing $2.1 million over four years, making it easier for Australians with diabetes to monitor their condition. From November 1, point-of-care glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) tests will be listed on Medicare, funding 19,000 tests for Australians with previously diagnosed diabetes. Around one in twenty Australian adults have diabetes. The condition accounts for 11 per cent of all hospitalisations, which can result in a range of health complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and lower limb amputation. Monitoring patients with diabetes is vitally important and early detection and effective therapy can delay the onset and progression of diabetes late complications, resulting in better outcomes for patients.
Read the full announcement here.
A major push to improve the health of the Indigenous community has been launched by the Australian Government, with a focus on increasing annual health checks.
Backed by a new radio advertising campaign delivered in five Aboriginal languages: Kriol, Yolngu Matha, Warlpiri, Arrente and Burarra, the Government is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to see their GP and have a 715 health check.
The health check, listed as item 715 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, is tailored specifically to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages. It is free and available every nine to twelve months.
Read the full announcement here.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is making it easier for health providers to comply with program arrangements with a new suite of helpful webpages.
Providers are also reminded to protect their provider numbers and ensure claiming is done correctly.
To read the update click here or visit the DVA compliance webpages.
Inform the Outpatient Reform Program about what the ideal outpatient experience should be from a consumer prospective. Please join one of the conversations at locations throughout the Perth metro area. View the flyer here for more information.
GP Urgent statistics for the 1st quarter of 2021: over 600 patients have presented to the GP Urgent Care practices in the network, this is a positive outcome and reflect the hard work by practices promoting via webpages and booking portals.
Training sessions commenced in March across Perth Metro, South West and Country Regions, consisting of online learning, face to face workshop delivery and post program student survey and summary.
In early March a successful Peripheral Intravenous Cannulation course was held at Technology Park Bentley. The course is evidence based with learning techniques designed to promote the best practice outcomes for patient care.
Feedback from participants on the day, demonstrated how informative the training they received and enabled them to feel confident to consolidate on returning to their practices.
There are some available places for GPs and Practice Registered Nurses on:
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.
Over 30 GPs, GP’s, practice managers, nurses and admin staff joined the Practice Assist team bright and early last Sunday at The Perth Exhibition Centre for their annual Practice Management Workshop.
Delivered as part of the 2021 Rural Health West 2021 Conference, the event provided participants with valuable knowledge, skills and support networks to build viable and sustainable businesses in rural Western Australia.
WA Primary Health alliance (WAPHA) Digital Health Team Leader, Simon Benge updated the room on key digital health drivers including ePrescribing and telehealth. This was followed by an update on the latest COVID-19 vaccine information, then the top tips on implementing quality improvement activities from WAPHA Manager of Primary Care Transformation, Sam McMillan (pictured).
Congratulations to Rural Health West for an excellent conference. The event was a great success, not only providing participants with valuable information to take back to their practices but also a rare opportunity for attendees to collaborate with their country peers and share practice methodologies.
View the workshop presentations here:
WA Primary Health Alliance have acquired access to four COVID-19 webinars from the Australian Association of Practice Managers (AAPM) which will be made available to practices approved to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine in Western Australia.
Topics for the webinars are:
To register click here.
The 11th April 2021 is World Parkinson’s Day and the Shake It Up Foundation invites you to help increase awareness and raise funds for Parkinson’s research to support the 100,000 Australian’s living with the disease.
There are so many ways to get involved! Have some fun and help us increase community awareness about Parkinson’s disease and raise vital funds for research.
Pause 4 Parkinson’s 2021 will highlight the impact that donors and fundraisers have made towards a cure for Parkinson’s, the innovative research that has been funded and the continued impact for people living with Parkinson’s.
For more information visit the Shake It Up website or Pause 4 Parkinson’s webpage
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.