CEO Primary Matters – 12 March 2020

GP Refresher 2020 cancellation due to COVID-19 concerns

As we prepare to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have made a decision to review all our Continuing Professional Development events for March. As a result we have cancelled our GP Refresher 2020, and have also cancelled some other scheduled sessions. Please check our website for any updates and changes.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network (WVPHN) has taken the step of cancelling the GP Refresher Program after much consideration and advice from local infectious disease specialists, current government health advice and the increasing infection rates of coronavirus in the Victorian community. WVPHN recognises that general practitioners are at the front line of primary care and their work is extremely important to containing COVID-19. Therefore we cannot afford to, in any way, potentially compromise the health of GPs by cross-infection via such a large event.

Many other health care services including hospitals and health sector peak bodies have already cancelled similar events.

I would like to acknowledge the tireless work of the GP Refresher Committee, consisting of Dr Kellie McDonald and Helene Gilmore, and to the GP Chairs, Dr Bianca Forrester, Dr Amy Litras and Dr Lou Sanderson, and all presenters, delegates, sponsors, staff and volunteers for supporting the event. It is truly a shame that we will not see the results of their hard work come to fruition this year. We thank them for their efforts and we look forward to your participation again next year.

As we are aware of the eager anticipation for the event, WVPHN will look at the possibility of producing some webinars by the speakers who were scheduled to present at the GP Refresher and have those available online.  We will advise of any such arrangements later in the year.

It is a trying time and your patience thus far is appreciated.

Staying updated on COVID-19

We urge all primary health care providers across the region to keep checking our website for updates on the COVID-19 situation and to please continue to contact us for advice and information regarding supply of masks.  Another valuable resource is the WVPHN HealthPathways site which is also providing up-to-date, localised clinical advice for health care professionals.

WVPHN continues to work closely with the state and Commonwealth governments, local health services and the GPs who have offered to assist us in emergency planning to put in place the necessary resources during this challenging public health emergency, including the distribution of masks to primary health care providers, identification and promotion of pathways for screening and treatment, and advocating for MBS Telehealth item numbers. We are also working on plans for rapid immunisation for influenza in vulnerable populations when the vaccine becomes available to better support health in the community as winter approaches.

This week, the Prime Minister announced a $2.4 billion health package to fight COVID-19.

Closing the Gap

Western Victoria is home to many thousands of people from various indigenous nations. At WVPHN, we strive to help close the gap in life expectancy by working with primary health care professionals to improve access to and the quality of health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in our community.

On Thursday 19 March, WVPHN and Barwon Health are co-hosting an event to commit to achieving health equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Guest speakers from both organisations will be discussing the role each play in closing the gap and what objectives we have in supporting the achievement of Indigenous health equality by 2030.

This year, the focus is on the role of culture in improving health outcomes: ‘we nurture our culture for our future, and our culture nurtures us’.

We are committed to promoting this message and will continue integrating services to improve health outcomes for our indigenous communities.


Leanne Beagley

Chief Executive Officer

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