Increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases have led to an Australia-wide surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS).
This continued pressure on supply chain logistics means the PPE stock delivery for WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has encountered a significant delay.
We continue to escalate this issue to the Australian Government Department of Health to ensure PPE orders are prioritised so we can fulfil orders from practices as soon as possible.
In the meantime, and considering these constraints, we are prioritising the delivery of orders to practices who have confirmed they will treat COVID-19 positive patients face to face.
We will update you regularly on the general situation and please be assured we are doing everything we can to expedite your deliveries.
WAPHA is providing ordering and logistical support (until a national distributor is appointed by the Australian Government) for the provision of PPE from the NMS to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) and GP Respiratory Clinics (GPRC).
Under the existing PPE supply arrangements, practices can only access PPE where there is no local supply available commercially or from a State or Territory government scheme, where practices have a population which may be more likely to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus and/or have unusual numbers of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.
While this arrangement continues, the expanded program provides comprehensive PPE bundles that are intended to support approximately four weeks of COVID-19 positive patient consultations per clinical staff member (i.e. 40 patient consultations – 20 patients with two consultations each) will be made available to all:
In addition, P2/N95 respirators and eye protection will be provided to all GPs and GPRCs willing to support COVID positive people virtually, and respiratory patients face-to-face, until 31 March 2022.
The selection of masks provided is entirely at the discretion of the NMS.
Read the Australian Government Department of Health communique
There are two types of bundles, which will be supplied based on the practice’s intentions with regards to COVID-19 positive patients and respiratory patients.
Bundle 1: P2/ N95 respirators, goggles/ face shields, gowns, gloves, surgical masks, hand sanitiser and pulse oximeters.
The WA Department of Health has published a set of transition policies and resources to help the health system respond to the anticipated surge in COVID-19 community transmission.
The information applies to WA public sector clinicians, private health providers, general practices and pharmacies.
It includes information on:
General practices who are already participating in the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program can continue to express interest to The Australian Government Department of Health to expand their participation to receive an ongoing allocation of the Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccine for individuals over 18 years of age who:
Nuvaxovid (Novavax) has not applied for regulatory authorisation to be used as a booster, so therefore cannot be used as a booster dose at this time.
Read the fact sheet for more information on the Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccine EOI requirements, allocation and timeframes.
The Department of Health has advised there has already been a high-level interest across Australia from primary care sites wishing to administer the Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccine and they intend to onboard practices in two tranches.
These tranches have been identified by the Department by considering vaccination rates, to maintain per capita state equity and align with existing order windows were possible.
The deadline for interested practices seeking delivery in the first delivery windows (from mid to late February) has closed, but practices can continue to register their interest for subsequent supply.
The supply of the Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccine would be in addition to existing Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine and/or SpikeVax (Moderna) vaccine allocations.
Thank you to those practices that have already expressed their interest through this process.
WA Primary Health Alliance is available to answer questions on the National Vaccine Rollout through Practice Assist. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478).
Last month, WA Primary Health Alliance’s Primary Care Navigator and QI Coach joined practice managers from Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Esperance and Kambalda via videoconference for the inaugural Goldfields Practice Managers' meeting.
Through these meetings, practice managers from across the region connect to help strengthen relationships and improve the coordination of services in the Goldfields.
To ensure a collaborative approach and improve engagement, regional managers and a representative from the Goldfields Health Professionals Network also attended.
Agenda items on the day included, COVID-19 preparedness, digital health, e-prescribing and advance care directives with additional time allowed for networking and exchanging of ideas.
Jane McCrea, Practice Manager from Genpar Medical Service commented that she found the meeting very informative.
“It was great to get a regional perspective on issues especially COVID 19 preparedness. The meeting provided me with the opportunity to network and support each other in these stressful time”
WA Primary Health Alliance acknowledges the vital role practice managers play in general practice and taking this opportunity to collaborate and provide information and support was very rewarding.
On 28 January 2022, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine as a booster vaccine for individuals aged 16 and 17 years old.
Today (3 February) ATAGI released recommendations on booster doses for 16 to 17 year olds.
Comirnaty (Pfizer) is the only vaccine registered for use as a booster for people aged 16 to 17 years old at present.
On 31 January, the WA Department of Health launched COVID Care at Home
The free service delivers home monitoring care for COVID-positive people who require it due to having risk factors which put them at greater risk of requiring hospitalisation.
WA COVID Care at Home will enrol patients based on risk factors such as age, vaccination status, medical history and social factors.
COVID Care at Home patients will receive calls from the health care team to check their vital health signs and welfare.
COVID Care at Home patients may be provided with a pulse oximeter.
Patients can find COVID care at home via the Managing COVID-19 at home and in the community webpage which has advice on symptoms, infection prevention, testing and self-care.
Practice Assist has recently received queries from general practices regarding the re-use of PPE, particularly N95 masks.
The Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Health Care cover P2/N95 use in section 3.2.4 on Airborne Precautions. Here is states that ‘respirators should be changed when they become moist’ and ‘respirators should never be reapplied after they have been removed’ In other words, they are a single-use item.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has received several enquiries from organisations
wishing to reuse medical face masks and gowns amid shortages of these products during the
In order to make single-use products suitable for reuse, they must be reprocessed. While the TGA understands the critical need to consider all available options to address shortages, it is important to note that reprocessing single-use medical devices to enable their reuse could expose patients and medical staff to unnecessary risks.
Individuals or organisations contemplating reprocessing single-use face masks and gowns for reuse need to check the manufacturer's instructions for use (IFU) and their website. Many products are not suitable for reuse.
Reprocessing is a series of validated processes, carried out in a controlled manner, to render a medical device that has previously been used or contaminated as fit and safe for reuse. Reprocessing steps may include cleaning, disinfection, drying, inspection, testing, packaging, sterilisation, storage and transport.
If you or your organisation are contemplating reprocessing single-use face masks and gowns for reuse, then it is likely that these items will be subject to disinfection processes, rather than a sterilisation process that has been validated to deliver a known sterility assurance level.
It is important that organisations considering reprocessing medical devices intended for single-use understand the following points:
Read the full TGA article here
WA Primary Health Alliance is holding Infection Control and PPE training sessions for General Practice, click here to register
In line with ATAGI and the Australian Government Department of Health advice all primary care vaccination sites may provide boosters three months after a primary course of COVID-19 vaccine has been administered.
See Clinical recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines for more
Children aged 5–11 years are reporting fewer side effects following Comirnaty (Pfizer) dose 1 vaccination than older Australians, new COVID-19 vaccine safety data from AusVaxSafety have shown.
29 per cent of children experienced one or more expected side effects in the first 3 days following their Pfizer dose 1 vaccination, which is 8 percentage points lower than the Australian population aged 12 years and older (37 per cent).
Children aged 5–11 years were also less likely to visit a doctor or emergency department following their Pfizer dose 1 vaccination than older Australians, with medical attendance rates similar to those reported for other childhood immunisations.
The most commonly reported side effects among children aged 5–11 years following their Pfizer dose 1 vaccination were local reactions (pain at injection site, swelling, redness and itching) followed by headache and fatigue. These common side effects are linked to the immune response following immunisation, are expected to occur and are generally mild and short-lived, with the overwhelming majority of children recovering within 3 days.
The latest AusVaxSafety COVID-19 safety data for children can be accessed here
Significant updates have occurred in the COVID-19 vaccination training program on Monday 31 January and Tuesday 1 February. Module progress and completion have not been affected. Please note that certificates will display the date that the module was originally completed and will not be updated if the module is repeated.
You are expected to login and view the new information. A summary of the updates can be found in the COVID-19 Training Announcement Board. All new changes and updates within the modules for this week are identified by 'NEW' and 'UPDATED' in blue with white, and all changes from previous updates will be identified as 'NEW' and 'UPDATED' in red and white.
Booster information: New information regarding booster doses will be identified by ‘NEW’ in orange and white.
Additional New Module: New COVID-19 vaccine Novavax Module now available. The Novavax training module must be completed by health professionals prior to administering the Novavax (NUVAXOVID) COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 digital certificates now list all COVID-19 vaccinations that have been reported to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), not just the last two vaccinations and this includes booster doses. Individuals who have previously saved their certificate to a device App (eg. Apple Wallet, Google Pay) or offline can now update the existing version of their certificate to the new version which includes all COVID-19 vaccinations.
Further information about accessing COVID-19 digital certificates is available on the Services Australia website.
The fit testing program WAPHA initiated was limited to practices who responded to our initial GP Survey confirming they will see COVID-19 positive patients face to face; or practices that requested PPE because they will see respiratory patients face to face. These practices have been contacted and fit testing providers have begun to provide the testing in practice.
Unfortunately, WAPHA is unable to offer any further fit testing, as it is not the policy of the Australian Government Department of Health to fund a program of fit testing for PPE for general practices.
Practices can contact fit testing providers in WA to arrange in practice or in centre fit testing. There are websites that are publicly available listing these including https://respfit.org.au/about/
The following content updates have now been published on the HealthPathways site:
To access HealthPathways please email the HealthPathways team at email@example.com
GPs remain an important part of WA’s residential aged care facility healthcare team.
To prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19 facilities may require the assistance of their visiting GPs.
WA Primary Health Alliance has prepared a checklist for facilities to go over with visiting GPs to guide their decision making process.
Ahead of their next visit to a residential aged care facility, GPs may want to decide if they:
Facilities are also being encouraged to have their outbreak management plans complete and ready to share with their visiting GPs.
Supply of COVID-19 vaccine stock is controlled by the Australian Department of Health.
Practices that are unable to source COVID-19 vaccine supplies through local networks, including general practices and pharmacies, should complete the survey.
WAPHA is working with stakeholders to source large quantities of vaccine stock for practices with an urgent need to fulfil upcoming booked appointments.
For other requests, please contact the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) for further assistance on 1800 318 208 or via email
To keep access to digital health tools such as Electronic Prescribing and My Health Record, you must have a current NASH Certificate installed. NASH Certificates may be expiring in March 2022 for many organisations. Your NASH certificate may originally have had an expiry date past March 13 2022, however due to the upgrade of the NASH PKI certificates to NASH SHA-2 Certificates, your digital health services will discontinue working from March 13 unless it was renewed after September 2021.
If your NASH certificate is not renewed prior to March 13 you will lose access to Electronic Prescribing, Healthcare Identifiers, Secure Messaging and My Health Record. This will affect your ability to upload and access My Health Record, consequently affecting your ePIP incentive.
The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) is hosting multiple webinar session dates that will step you through the process of requesting and renewing a NASH certificate for your organisation.
The staff member who is the Organisation Maintenance Officer (OMO) needs to attend as they are responsible for renewing NASH certificates. OMOs are also encouraged to check they can log into PRODA prior to attending, to ensure the demonstrated steps can be easily completed following the session.
Webinar details: (14 dates to choose from)
Choose a date and register
The ADHA have also released the Renewing your NASH PKI Certificate quick guide to assist you with this process for your practice.
For further support and information on renewing your NASH Certificate please contact Practice Assist.
Due to ongoing issues with the new data loggers, the WA Department of Health will temporarily revert to using the old data loggers for regional vaccine deliveries.
They are currently investigating the cause of issues with the data loggers, but will keep you updated with the relevant information.
As a result, Zostavax (Shingles), Varivax (Varicella), and ProQuad (MMRV) are once again temporarily unavailable for regional providers until further notice.
We sincerely apologise for this disruption, and any inconvenience that it may cause.
In the meantime:
As always, if you need anything urgently, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We appreciate your patience during this time, and thank you for your ongoing commitment to the immunisation of Western Australians.
Since the changes to the Closing the Gap (CTG) Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Co-payment Program were introduced on 1 July 2021, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were previously receiving benefits via the Program are not actually registered for the Program through Services Australia.
The Department of Health, together with Services Australia, has implemented a grace period which will prevent CTG annotated prescriptions from being rejected at the time of dispensing if the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is not formally registered in the new centralised database.
The Department of Health acknowledges the continuing COVID situation has put pressure on all health professionals involved in primary care.
In light of this, the Department of Health has decided to further extend the Registration Grace Period to 30 June 2022 for those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Australian Government announced changes to the Rural Bulk Billing Incentives (RBBI) to help improve access to quality health services for rural and remote Australians by reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients and improving the viability of primary care services in their communities.
From 1 January 2022, Rural Bulk Billing incentives progressively increase from the current rate of 150% of the incentive in metropolitan areas as classified under the Modified Monash (MM) Model to:
Also, providers working in MM 1 locations are able to claim a RBBI for after-hours item when providing a bulk billed after hours service in MM 2-7 locations.
There are no changes for providers working in MM 1 locations who can access the normal bulk billing incentive, or for those working in MM 2 locations, who will continue to access the current rural bulk billing incentive amount (150% scaling).
Details are available in the attached Fact Sheet and MBS Online.
The Palliative Care Helpline is a free service available to all members of the WA community. Managed by Palliative Care WA with funding from WA Department of Health, the Helpline provides non-clinical information, resources and support on issues around palliative care, advance care planning and grief and loss.
Many people call the Helpline soon after they, or a family member, have received a terminal diagnosis and have been referred to palliative care. Others have a family member in residential aged care who are approaching end of life. Callers need to understand more about palliative care, what to expect and where to go for further information. Often, they just need to talk things through. With people able to talk for as long as they need and the service operating every day of the year, the Helpline provides a vital support for those dealing with end of life.
The Palliative Care Helpline number is 1800 573 299. General Practices are encouraged to provide this number to anyone receiving or about to receive palliative care and their families, as well as those requiring some information or support to undertake their advance care planning.
As WA opens up and we deal with the inevitable community spread of COVID-19 this service will take on an even more vital role in providing information, support and resources to the community.
To receive a supply of Helpline postcards to hand out to patients, please contact the Palliative Care WA Office on email@example.com or 1300 551 704.
We are calling for expressions of interest from clinicians (including GPs and GP Registrars with a specialist interest in chronic heart failure (CHF), Registered Nurses, Allied Health Professionals, CHF specialists) who are passionate about CHF to join an Expert Reference Group. The group will inform, guide and support the development and delivery of the Community Health and Hospitals Program, which will develop and implement models of multidisciplinary care led by general practice for CHF patients in Western Australia. Members will be required to participate in sessional meetings and where required, out of session consultation.
Find out more and submit your Expression of Interest here by COB Monday 28 February 2022.
The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use (the Matilda Centre) at the University of Sydney has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to develop a series of free, evidence-based resources to improve the capacity of clinicians who work with people experiencing co-occurring alcohol and other drug (AOD) and mental health conditions. Comorbidity Project resources now include an on-demand webinar series, online training program, and face-to-face training program. All resources are available via their website.
WACHS and the Asthma Foundation have been working together to develop a consumer
friendly COPD Action Plan and COPD Checklist for General Practitioners (GPs) and are pleased to announce the resources are now finalised.
Please see below with resources which are also available on the Asthma WA website:
Given the current situation in WA, with COVID-19 circulating and preparing for the borders to open it is an opportune time for GPs to work with their COPD patients to support them to stay well in the community, know how to self-manage their condition and not contract COVID-19.
The University of Western Australia is looking to recruit general practitioners (GPs) to complete a short online survey. Mental ill-health is a common presentation for women of reproductive age, and management of psychiatric disorder in those wishing to conceive or who are pregnant remain complex and challenging for both patients and health practitioners alike. This research seeks to understand GPs perception of supports and barriers in prescribing and managing psychotropic medication for women in the perinatal period and how education programs and resources may be better developed.
View the flyer here for more information.
Learnings from colleagues on the east coast have indicated that using telehealth services during the pandemic has been critical for the health care of their patients, and the survival of their practice. If you are not telehealth enabled please contact our Digital Health Team or see the Digital Health resources below.
Healthdirect Australia is pleased to announce that the Department of Health has extended the healthdirect Video Call COVID- 19 GP Program to 30 June 2022.
In collaboration with the RACGP, Healthdirect Australia is offering CPD courses that support GPs and Practice Managers to use Video Call more confidently and effectively. The following free courses are run by Healthdirect’s RACGP Education Activity Representatives:
This module is for GPs new to Video Call and covers the basic functionality of the platform. The course will also suit Practice Managers who may be implementing telehealth into their practice workflows. Register here for essential training
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
Please contact the healthdirect Video Call team if you have any questions.
This general session will provide general advice regarding the basic principles of effective infection prevention and management, and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including:
WA Primary Health Alliance is delighted to host three Living with COVID Webinars in early 2022 led by dynamic presenter Katrina Otto. Katrina started Train IT Medical in 2006 in direct response to a market need for independent medical software training delivered by professional trainers who are also experienced medical practice professionals. Over a 30 year career Katrina has managed several medical practices and accredited day surgery facilities and is currently managing a COVID vaccination clinic in Sydney. With her wealth of lived experience in the COVID space, and a reputation as an engaged educator, these sessions will be invaluable to WA practices starting on their Living with COVID journey.
Katrina will address topics highlighted by practices in the recent WA Primary Health Alliance practice survey, along with discussions with practice managers.
Please see below for finalised dates and registration links. Please note that each webinar is repeated once. Please only register for each webinar for the one session.
For more details on our presenter and the course she delivers at: www.trainitmedical.com.au
We are sure you’ll get great value from the line-up of speakers, which includes some of the most important international and national voices in building and maintaining sustainable general practices.
Registration will also include 12 month membership of the Australian College of Practice Coaches!
To express your interest in attending, register here. Your application will be screened and redirected to the Registration site.
Once registered, you will receive an automated email asking you to ‘sign in now’. This is where you will complete your registration details and confirm attendance.
If you have any questions, please contact Training.CoP@wapha.org.au and a staff member will assist you.