21 July 2022
WA Primary Health Alliance 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 well being of the whole community.
Throughout this newsletter, the term "Aboriginal' is used to refer to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, unless stated otherwise.
Two new temporary MBS items will be available for medical practitioners working in a general practice setting to assess a patient's suitability to receive a prescription for a COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment via a telehealth phone consultation lasting at least 20 minutes (25 minutes for OMPs).
Commencing 19 July 2022, and available until 31 October 2022, MBS items 93716 for GPs and 93718 for OMPs have been made available to support medical practitioners with treating COVID-19 positive patients.
The new items are specific to services for eligible Medicare patients nationally who have confirmed their COVID-19 infection via a laboratory test (PCR) or by a Rapid Antigen Test.
For further information see the MBS Online fact sheet
Did you know that WA Primary Health Alliance has access to funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care to support COVID-19 vaccination of Vulnerable Populations? This funding is available until 31 December 2022.
We can provide general practices reimbursement to the value of the relevant MBS item number to support non-Medicare patients being vaccinated against COVID-19. Historical vaccination claims will be accepted post 1 September 2021, however initially we would welcome a discussion with any general practice looking to submit a historical reimbursement claim to ensure the remaining applicable doses are administered.
The invoicing process and requirements for reports from practices will be minimal (reports would include: numbers vaccinated, dose interval and any good news stories).
Please contact the Practice Assist team for further information.
The Commonwealth Department of Health have recently launched a number of vibrant campaigns to support the uptake of COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations to protect from serious illness. The materials focus on a sense of urgency that winter is here, people are more vulnerable to illness at winter and that it is safe to have both vaccines at the same time. Included in the campaign are bespoke resources targeting children (Kids will be kids) and Aboriginal people (wintertime is the best time).
The Practice Assist Winter Strategy page hosts these and many other promotional resources in one convenient place, free to use in support of medical practice winter vaccine campaigns.
Claims for reimbursement and grant payments for activities undertaken for the month of June 2022 are now open.
A unique link has been sent to your Onelink account email address inviting you to submit a claim for activities undertaken from 1 – 30 June 2022.
A separate link will be sent in August for activities undertaken from 1 – 31 July 2022.
For reimbursement and general queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
All Western Australians can continue to receive a free influenza vaccination during the month of July.
This program is available to everyone over the age of 6 months, in WA. This includes persons without a Medicare card and non-WA residents (those who have travelled to WA from interstate or internationally).
Influenza case numbers are continuing to increase in WA and vaccination is still the most effective measure to protect patients from severe illness and hospitalisation.
Please visit Free influenza vaccination during June and July campaign (health.wa.gov.au) to download, print, and share campaign materials promoting the program in your practice, website, or social media pages.
GP clinics, pharmacies, and AMSs will need to register for the program to access reimbursements and grant payments. If you have already registered for the program in June, you do not need to register again.
GP clinics and AMSs who would like to register and have not already done so, please contact email@example.com to express your interest.
For pharmacies who would like to register please contact the Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA Branch firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information, visit Free Influenza Vaccination Program July 2022 (health.wa.gov.au)
This two-page infographic was recently updated and outlines which vaccines and doses are recommended for each age and population group.
The updated flow chart reflects the changes to vaccine eligibility, including fourth doses for over 50-year-olds and over 30-year-olds.
Download the updated poster here
WA is adopting new national health advice on COVID-19 reinfection – updating the State’s guidelines to show reinfection can occur from 4 weeks after recovering from the virus. COVID-19 reinfection cases were previously defined as a case that occurs more than 12 weeks after recovery.
The new guidance means:
This updated reinfection advice does not affect the recommended interval between COVID-19 infection and a COVID-19 vaccination. People who have recovered from COVID-19 must wait 3 months after having a COVID-19 infection before receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
Listen to the Chief Health Officer, Dr Andrew Robertson, speak to 6PR about COVID-19 reinfection.
Information on what to expect after you’ve had COVID-19 is available on the HealthyWA website
Most Onelink account holders will need to update their licence details on or before 22 July 2022 to ensure continued access to government-funded vaccines.
Those that need to update their details will have been notified earlier this month via email.
For providers with Health Service Permit, AHPRA registrations, or Pharmacy registrations expiring on or before 31 July 2022, please provide updated details of your Health Service Permit, AHPRA registration or Pharmacy registration via your Onelink Account Details (health.wa.gov.au). These details are required to continue ordering government-funded vaccines.
Contact email@example.com for further queries.
The following Perth public COVID-19 testing clinics are closed from 15 July:
Free PCR testing will continue to be available at other sites across WA, including near the closed locations.
Testing clinics at Royal Perth Hospital, Joondalup Health Campus, Rockingham Hospital and the PathWest public drive-through facility in Murdoch (alongside Fiona Stanley Hospital) will continue to operate between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and from 8am to 4pm on weekends.
Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick and convenient way to test at home. Find out about the WA government’s free RAT program.
Visit Healthy WA for the latest testing clinic information
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved a paediatric dose of the Spikevax (Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals aged six months to five years.
As with all COVID-19 vaccines, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) will provide advice on use of this vaccine in this age group to the Australian Government in coming weeks.
The paediatric vaccine for children aged six months to five years dose is 25 micrograms in a 0.25 ml vial.
For more information visit the TGA here
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has updated its recommendations for a winter booster (fourth dose) of COVID-19 vaccine to help reduce severe disease from the emerging surge of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariant infections, and to reduce the burden on Australian hospitals and the healthcare system in coming months.
This advice is in addition to the previous recommendations for individuals to receive a first booster following completion of their primary course of vaccines:
To reduce wait times, bookings are encouraged and can be made through VaccinateWA. Winter boosters are available at any state-run COVID-19 vaccination clinic or an appointment can be booked through a participating GP or pharmacy using Vaccine Clinic Finder.
In the week ending 10 July, 2047 cases of influenza were reported to the WA Department of Health - an increase of more than 600 cases from the previous week (3 July).
Source: WA Department of Health Virus Watch
Indicators of influenza activity, and presentations to emergency departments and sentinel general practices also increased.
However, admissions to hospital decreased.
Presentations to emergency departments are in a higher range than what is usually reported this time of year (WA Department of Health Virus Watch week ending 10 July 2022).
Australia-wide 150 confirmed influenza-associated deaths have been recorded predominately in the 65 years or older age group (Primary Care COVID-19 update Deputy Chief Medical Officer 15 July 2022).
People aged five to nine years old, children aged younger than five years, and people aged 10 to 19 years have the highest notification rates of influenza nationwide (Australian Influenza Surveillance Report and Activity Updates, 20 June to 3 July 2022).
Given the high rates of Diabetes in WA, General Practice plays a pivotal role – to diagnose, treat and educate people with Diabetes to best manage their condition and avoid complications, as well as inform people avoid developing type 2 diabetes through preventative health care and health promotion.
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, increasing at a faster rate than any other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. All types of Diabetes are increasing in prevalence
In Australia, over the last 12 months 116,440 people with diabetes were registered with the NDSS. This is equivalent to 319 new registrants every day, and over 1.5 million Australians with diabetes including those who are undiagnosed.
This results in substantial morbidity and mortality, particularly from cardiovascular complications, eye and kidney diseases and limb amputations.
Best-practice, high-quality diabetes care is achieved when health care professionals work seamlessly and in partnership across primary health, allied health, community and specialist care services with the person with diabetes, their families and carers.
Primary care plays a significant role in the diagnosis and management of diabetes, which is supported by Chronic Disease Management in General Practice.
A range of resources supporting General Practice to provide best practice high-quality diabetes care are available as follows:
The bi partisan election commitment to provide subsidised access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and flash glucose monitoring (FGM) technology for all Australians living with type 1 diabetes means thousands of West Australian will now have access to technology that they previously had to pay for.
Melanie Gates, CEO of Diabetes WA, says this is a great win for the type 1 community. “Diabetes WA has long been calling for better, equitable access to vital technology for West Australians with type 1 – our thanks to all the organisations and individuals who helped make this happen,” Ms Gates says.
Diabetes WA will be working hard to make sure this change is implemented effectively to guarantee quick and easy access for those who need it. They are offering video conferencing consults with their Credentialled Diabetes Educators (CDE’s) to eligible NDSS registrants, wishing to commence with CGM and FGM technology. This service is available to those who do not have this support from their usual health care provider and comes with the announcement that authorisation of CGM/FGM access forms are limited to CDE’s, Endocrinologists, Paediatricians and Nurse Practitioners. Diabetes WA’s team of CDE’s aims to work collaboratively and add extra capacity to support timely access for patients in accessing the expanded subsidy.
Please contact 1300 001 880 to speak with one of the CDE’s Monday- Friday 8.30am- 4.30pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about the Diabetes WA CGM Start-up Clinic referral, cost and appointment availability.
Hosted by the Heart Foundation in partnership with the World Heart Federation and Australian Diabetes Society, this webinar will seek to explore the latest evidence on CVD and diabetes, including the link between CVD risk and diabetes, as well as pharmacological strategies for the prevention of the two conditions.
The international expert panel will discuss:
A new pilot program to screen children for type 1 diabetes is being rolled out in the local area (Melville & Canning) and we need Primary Care Providers' invaluable support. The pilot aims to understand how a national screening program for type 1 diabetes should be offered to all Australian children in the future.
Every day, three children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in Australia but at least 1 will be diagnosed too late, requiring emergency medical care. With a simple test, the Type 1 Diabetes National Screening Program can help find these children as early as possible, avoid the trauma of a missed diagnosis, and support families in every way possible.
The Type 1 Diabetes National Screening Pilot, funded by Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and led by a research team at the University of Sydney, will invite parents of children aged 2, 6 or 10 years old living in South Perth (Melville & Canning) to have their child screened via a simple fingerpick to collect a bloodspot sample, to determine if their child has early-stage type 1 diabetes before symptoms develop.
We invite you to register to join an introductory information session for Primary Care Providers via zoom | Wednesday 3 August 2022 | 5:30pm–6:15pm (AWST)
Dr Gary Deed | MBBS, FACNEM, MRACGP, General Practitioner at Mediwell Medical Clinic
Dr Aveni Haynes | BA(Hons), MBBChir, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth
HealthPathways WA has a suite of diabetes related pathways designed to be utilised during GP consultations and as a point of reference for other health professionals and practice staff.
These pathways can assist health professionals and practices in increasing their awareness on:
*Disclaimer: Some of these pathways and pages are currently under review.
To gain access, you can request a login via the HealthPathways WA Project Site and complete the ‘Request a login’ form, or email the team at email@example.com. You can utilize the search bar, located at the top of the webpage, or the left-hand navigation panel to search for information. To provide feedback email the HealthPathways team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the “Send Feedback” button at the bottom of each page on the site.
Diphtheria is a potentially deadly infection caused by toxins produced by certain strains of Corynebacterium bacteria.
Respiratory diphtheria causes severe swelling of the throat and neck, which can block the airway and cause breathing problems. The bacterial toxin can also damage the heart, kidneys, brain and nerves.
The diphtheria bacteria spread through respiratory droplets, for example, from coughing or sneezing. They can also spread through skin sores.
In Australia, vaccines containing diphtheria toxoid (an inactivated form of the toxin) are provided free on the National Immunisation Program (NIP), with three doses initially at two, four and six months of age.
Diphtheria was once among Australia's top-ten causes of child death between 1926 and 1935. Diphtheria cases fell dramatically following the introduction of vaccines in the 1940’s. Diphtheria is now very rare. Prior to two recent cases in NSW, there had been no cases of respiratory diphtheria in children in Australia since 1992.
Read further about Diphtheria to strengthen your knowledge on clinical symptoms, how they spread, prevention, treatment, why it’s resurfaced in Australia and what you can do.
Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, but if detected early, more than 90% of cases can be successfully treated.
Unfortunately, only 43.5% of all eligible people aged 50-74 complete the kits sent to them every two years. If we could increase the participation rate to 60%, 84,000 lives could be saved over the next 20 years.
On 20 June, Cancer Council Australia, in partnership with the Australian Government, launched a national bowel cancer screening campaign. The Get2it campaign across TV, radio, out-of-home media and PR, aims to increase participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).
The campaign will likely result in a greater number of enquiries to practices about bowel cancer and screening. This presents an important opportunity for GPs and primary care health professionals to endorse the program and support their patients’ participation.
GPs are vital in identifying patients who have never screened or are not up to date with their screening. Research undertaken in 2021 by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) identified three types of people who are not participating in bowel screening: Refusers, Intenders and the Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) Naïve.
Each face specific barriers to participation and GPs and primary care health professionals are critical in responding to these challenges. We know that once people choose to screen, 80% will screen again when next invited so Cancer Council has produced a GP resource which can be used to identify the best approach to support these reluctant or hesitant screeners in choosing to screen, thereby contributing to improving NBCSP participation rates.
Bowel screening saves lives and evidence indicates that encouragement from a health practitioner greatly influences people’s intention to screen. That’s why Cancer Council is asking all GPs and primary care health professionals continue to encourage their patients to Get2it and take part in bowel cancer screening
Please visit www.bowelcancer.org.au/gp for useful resources or more information about the campaign.
The Department of Health, GPEx and the Jodi Lee Foundation invite GPs, Practice Nurses and their clinics to attend a free 30-minute webinar focusing on the skills and knowledge they need to support their patient’s participation in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).
Topics covered in the webinar include:
Click here to register now
The Australian Government Department of Health has extended the healthdirect VideoCall COVID- 19 GP Program to 31 December 2022, providing General Practices with free access to a secure and free video consulting platform which has been purpose-built for use in primary care. Practices already using the platform can continue to use the same details, and those requiring support can:
General Practices using Best Practice, Medical Director, Genie or Medtech can now send electronic referrals (e-Referrals) to private specialists directly from their clinical system via SR Specialists & Referrals and HealthLink. By integrating the Medical Specialists Directory into practice software, referrers can search for and securely refer to their chosen specialist directly from the patient record. Electronic referrals provide many benefits to both clinicians and patients as they provide a safe, fast and free method of communicating sensitive patient information without the administrative burden associated with faxing, emailing or posting referrals.
Quick guides for Best Practice and Medical Director are available, and further support with setting up and using electronic referrals is available via Practice Assist, SR Specialists & Referrals or from your clinical software vendor.
On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, ASHM are helping to raise awareness of the 335,000 people in Australia living with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C because Hepatitis Can’t Wait.
World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes place every year on 28 July, bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change. In 2022 the theme is ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait’. Visit www.worldhepatitisday.org.au for more information
Primary care plays a critical role in keeping people with heart failure well enough in the community to reduce their need for hospitalisation. To provide GPs, practice nurses and other health professionals with an interest in chronic heart failure (CHF) with evidence based, up-to-date education, WAPHA recently delivered an informative, online CHF education event.
Together with the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the East Metropolitan Health Service and Dr Lewis MacKinnon – Principal GP at Skye Medical Armadale, WAPHA’s Chronic Heart Failure Project Team explored the social and economic factors impacting the prevalence of CHF in WA, best-practice guidelines for the management, and the role of primary health care practitioners in providing multidisciplinary care for people with chronic heart failure.
Attendees from general practice, pharmacy, and allied health and other medical practitioners were provided with evidence-based information and tools to help prioritise person-centred care plans, to work with a multidisciplinary team approach and utilise available resources such as the Heart Foundation’s heart failure resources to proactively manage chronic heart failure.
Access The Heart of It – Chronic Heart Failure Webinar on demand here and contact Kiera.Collier@wapha.org.au to find out more about WAPHA’s primary care led Chronic Heart Failure Pilot Project
The HealthPathways WA team has recently developed the Care of Patients with Disabilities pathway, which takes a holistic approach to patient care. This pathway was developed in collaboration with several stakeholders, including people with lived experience and their carers.
There are more pathways being developed or planned in the disability space including the updated Autism pathways, currently under review. The Care of Patients with Disabilities pathway will help to promote the importance of respecting patients’ autonomy and independence to make decisions about their own health. When assessing, managing, or communicating with patients with a disability, the pathway considers the 6 Fs: Function, Family, Fitness, Fun, Friends, and Future.
The work on this pathway has been highlighted as a major achievement amongst the HealthPathways community in Australia and New Zealand – Respecting lived experience - caring for people with disabilities in Western Australia.
To gain access, you can request a login via the HealthPathways WA Project Site and complete the ‘Request a login’ form, or email the team at email@example.com. To provide feedback email the HealthPathways team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the “Send Feedback” button at the bottom of each page on the site.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) fees for medical, dental and allied health items have been indexed by 1.6 per cent. Updated fee schedules are available here.
Nominate them for the 2022 RACGP Awards! The RACGP Awards honour the outstanding contributions of GPs and staff at practices across Australia. Help us formally celebrate this work and dedication to holistic patient care.
For more information or to nominate, visit the RACGP Awards website.
These resources are a compilation of face sheets, user guides, checklists, business plans and posters. They can be found in the Tool Kit pages on our website. In addition to this there are a small number of resources available in our Resource Library.
This session is designed for General Practitioners, Practice Nurses and other health professionals.
Don’t miss out! There is still time to register for this month’s Asthma WA health professional webinar, on Bronchiectasis: Diagnosis and Management.
It is thought that many people with chronic respiratory symptoms due to bronchiectasis remain undiagnosed. The groups at risk are people who have a chronic respiratory condition such as COPD and Indigenous populations. Join Asthma WA to learn more about Bronchiectasis and how you can identify and manage this condition in your patients.
The Immunisation Coalition’s 2022 Adult Immunisation Forum
Presented by AIF