CEO Primary Matters – 24 January 2024

Welcome to 2024 

While it’s late in the month, I’d like to wish you all a rather belated Happy New Year, in this our first Primary Matters of 2024.  

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing break over the holiday period and have returned to work refreshed and ready for the year ahead.  

No doubt 2024 will bring its fair share of challenges for primary health sector, but once again we look forward to working with our community of health professionals to improve health outcomes for the people of western Victoria.  

With that in mind, I’d like to remind everyone that we are still in the process of developing our 2024 Needs Assessment.  

We do a Needs Assessment every three years to collect information from health professionals and the wider community about what health issues our community are facing and to find out what services are missing or need improving. The Needs Assessment is vital is helping us assess where and how our budget should be spent, which last year amounted to more than $58 million. 

If you feel there are health issues or service problems in your region that need to be addressed, then myself and the team at WVPHN would really appreciate you taking the time to provide your feedback to our 2024 Needs Assessment, you can do so here.    

CEO Update 

We are still in the process of searching for our next CEO. In early December we started advertising for the role and we’re still accepting applications at present. If you’re interested to learn more about the role of CEO of WVPHN, you can learn more here. 

COVID Vaccinations 

This newsletter outlines updates on the latest COVID-19 variant, JN.1. The new variant significantly increased hospitalisations over the Christmas and New Year period, although the number of hospitalisations has now eased.  

The update also notes that COVID vaccinations in western Victoria have dropped off significantly, with only 12.4% of those aged 65+ having received a COVID vaccination in the last six months, compared with 60.8% in the last 12 months. If you have older patients in your care who are not up to date with their vaccinations, the recommendation is to update their protection against the virus. 

Primary Health Care Nurses Day 

The first Wednesday of February – the 7 February this year – is Primary Health Care Nurses Day. Primary health care is the cornerstone of our health care system, but most people think ‘hospitals’ when they think ‘health’. Primary health care is the first point of contact for individuals and families with the health care system and plays a pivotal role in prevention, early intervention and ongoing care. We’d encourage everyone to celebrate the day by wearing primary colour on 7 February to celebrate the incredible work being done by the 96,000 primary health care nurses nationwide and highlight the vital work that they do that positively impacts the health and wellbeing of every Australian. 

Primary Care Conference 2024 

Finally, we are really excited about this year’s Primary Care Conference (PCC), to be held over the weekend of 25-26 May. In keeping with our times, this year’s theme is ‘Transforming primary care.’ The PCC will also be undergoing its own transformation, with the venue changing to Ballarat (from Geelong) for the first time – in the newly refurbished Goods Shed (at Ballarat’s historic railway station). While we have many more announcements to make about the PCC, we hope that western Victorian health professionals will continue to support it and make the most of the opportunity for face-to-face interaction and networking. 

Andy Giddy, Acting CEO of WVPHN
24 January 2024 

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