CEO Primary Matters – 25 March 2020

Western Victoria PHN’s role in COVID-19

Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) is running virtual offices, with all staff working from home as of Tuesday 24 March. For all our stakeholders it remains business as usual. Staff will continue to connect with health care providers directly via phone or email. Staff can also be contacted as normal by phone, mobile or email.

Health care providers, including GPs, pharmacies and health care workers at Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander health services can continue to order masks by filling in the online form on the WVPHN website. Masks will be delivered via courier.

We are committed to delivering accurate and up-to-date information and resources to help our health service providers respond effectively to COVID-19.

We are continuing to work with general practice and hospitals as part of the National Public Health Response, specifically focusing on supporting the establishment and coordination of primary care responses which:

  • Provide timely and accurate information to inform the primary care community and where appropriate general public
  • Improve patient access to testing and triaging services in the community
  • Keep patients at home where appropriate
  • Enable timely access for patients to acute care when they need it.

Commonwealth and state governments are working hard with local health services and providers to plan for responding to the expected demand. WVPHN is working with the Commonwealth to progress GP-led respiratory clinics which we expect will be developed shortly. We are also working with the state government in their efforts to support a responsive hospital system in preparation for expected increase in demand.

We are providing clinical advice to GPs via our on-line HealthPathways clinical support tool. HealthPathways is exceptionally well placed to provide localised information in emergency situations. Developed by our clinical editors, this is kept up-to-date daily and is now being used as the exemplar page for the state. It strictly follows DHHS advice and has had more views than any other HealthPathways site, which tells us that GPs are looking to HealthPathways for clinical advice on COVID-19.

We have also created a COVID-19 Response page on our website as well as a COVID-19 General Practice Resources page, but be sure to remain up-to-date on COVID-19 health alerts.

COVID-19 and mental health

We know that situations like this do raise people’s anxiety, especially if the ground keeps shifting, the future is unclear and they are concerned about themselves, family and friends.

As the first port of call for many people seeking support and answers they can trust, general practitioners are in the front line of responding to community concern.

GPs are telling us that people are indeed worried and looking for support and we acknowledge that what is happening now may be evoking anxiety and stress.

We encourage people to review the advice from Beyond Blue and look after themselves and each other during this time, recognising that being socially isolated from supports also means people will need to use other ways to connect such as by phone or online.

Let’s continue to support and learn from each other as we venture through this unfamiliar territory together.


Dr Leanne Beagley

Chief Executive Officer

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