Australia's first National Rural Health Commissioner

Kate Barlow

Western Victoria Primary Health Network welcomes Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie’s announcement on Wednesday of the future appointment of Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner. We look forward to working and supporting the Commissioner in their role as an independent and high profile advocate for regional and rural health.

Generally people living in rural Australia have a shorter life expectancy, higher risk factors for disease, which in turn is reflected in higher rates of illness compared to those living in major cities.

In addition, people living in rural communities experience limited access to a range of goods and services, employment, education and health service opportunities. There are significant expectations on the rural health workforce in terms of service provision, professional development and availability 24/7. This impacts workforce recruitment and retention.

A combination of factors including access, behaviours and environment create the poorer health of people living in rural areas compared to their city counterparts. It is not yet possible to determine which factors make the most significant contribution to poor health outcomes.

There are benefits to living in rural communities including higher levels of social cohesion, demonstrated through higher rates of volunteerism and feelings of safety in the community. The National Rural Health Commissioner will provide a focus on the poorer health of rural Australians and opportunities to utilise the strengths of rural communities to the health and life expectancy of rural Australians.

We look forward to the passing of the Health Insurance Amendment (National Rural Health Commissioner) Bill 2017, and continuing to work with government and other key stakeholder groups to improve health outcomes for the many rural and regional communities across Western Victoria.

Kate Barlow, Acting Chief Executive Officer

General

Opioid Management Team update - drug seeking behaviour and real-time prescription monitoring
New campaign highlights dangers of smoke
Hepatitis C patient monitoring
New diabetes and emotional health handbook
Allied Health Workforce Research Program
SARRAH nursing and allied health scholarships
Time For Change substance misuse treatment program
Nominate for national nursing & midwifery awards
Small Acts of Love: national dementia symposium
Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis: webinar
Musculoskeletal health webinar series
Women's health workshop
Introduction to bowel cancer and screening webinar
Preventing chronic diseases seminar

Great South Coast

Domestic Violence Response Training

Ballarat Goldfields 

Join the HealthPathways neuro-vascular workgroup
Small Acts of Love: national dementia symposium
Palliative care breakfast

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update
Barwon Health referral templates for Pregnancy Care and Medical Day Stay Unit
Stolen Generation Apology anniversary morning tea
River's Gift SIDS symposium
Urology research forum

Grampians Wimmera

Have your say on local health issues

General 

Opioid Management Team update - drug seeking behaviour and real-time prescription monitoring

Western Victoria PHN logo

Drug seeking behaviours can be a real problem for GPs, pharmacists and other health professionals. It can be quite difficult to make the decision about a patient’s clinical need for a medication when they are distressed and crying in front of you. Real-time prescription monitoring will make it easier for GPs to try and identify patients who may be doing the wrong think. Mike McDonough, Addiction Medicine Specialist from Western Health, discusses the progress of this potentially beneficial program.

“It is reasonable to state that the majority of public health and addiction specialists share the view that prescription opioid monitoring (the proposed ERRCD program) has the potential to improve the safety of prescribing,” Mike McDonough says.

“Numerous past Coronial investigations into pharmaceutical opioid related deaths have concluded with the recommendation to establish real time prescription monitoring for opioids. Families having experienced opioid related deaths are also joining other groups to lobby for such monitoring. However, despite the recent acceptance of such a recommendation by the Federal and State governments, there is yet to be a similar consensus about what form this monitoring program should take,” he says.

Mike McDonough says that while most people agree on S8 opioids being the prime target for monitoring, ‘many have also called to have benzodiazepines included because the majority of opioid related deaths involve opioids in combination with other sedatives, commonly benzodiazepines.’

Sydney University's Professor Nick Lintzeris makes the point that a prescription monitoring program if used in isolation may not be helpful. In particular, he calls for a national consensus on what will be monitored, what will be the ‘flags’ (risk profile) screened for under such a program and then what interventions will be offered. Further, the Pennington Institute also calls for a national system, again requiring a consensus. Currently, the proposal for ERRCD which looks likely for implementation provides ‘real time’ prescribed opioid data from the PBS database to doctors and leaves the “monitoring” up to the individual doctor.

It is therefore hoped a national consensus can be achieved before the program is made ready to implement.

Resources

Further information and resources related to managing prescription shoppers and drug seeking behaviour is available for download: 

A new HealthPathway has been developed to assist GPs with patients who may be prescription shopping.

Online forum

Meantime, join Western Victoria Primary Health Network's online forum to discuss with your peers and colleagues your issues with patients displaying drug seeking behaviour or any other issues you have with prescribing opioids, pain and dependence.

For more information contact: 

Geelong Otway: Pene Wood and Dr Mark Davies by telephone 5222 0800

Great South Coast: Amy Collins and Aneill Kamath by telephone 5564 5888

Ballarat Goldfields / Grampians Wimmera: Jacqueline Keevins by telephone 5338 0511

New campaign highlights dangers of smoke

DHHS

A new government campaign highlights the dangers of smoke and provides simple measures for protection when air quality is affected by smoke from bushfires, grassfires and planned burns.

The Department of Health and Human Services' 'Smoke and your health' animated campaign follows Larry, a microscopic particle and illustrates how he can harm people’s health, particularly older people, children, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions.

Additional campaign resources including fact sheets and posters are available for download.

Hepatitis C patient monitoring

Western Victoria PHN logo

Western Victoria Primary Health Network advises that patients undergoing treatment for hepatitis C need monitoring during the course of their treatment:

At each appointment

Assess adherence to medication; side effects from the treatment; and potential drug interactions- has the patient commenced a new medication without consulting you.

Week 4 of treatment

FBE, LFTs

Week 12 of treatment

FBE, LFTs and HCV RNA PCR  (qualitative) (The HCV RNA PCR is optional but may be considered if there is a concern about poor adherence).

Week 12 post ceasing treatment

FBE, LFTs and HCV RNA PCR  (qualitative). If the HCV RNA PCR comes back SVR12, the patient is cured. SVR 12 stands for sustained viral response at 12 weeks.

About frequency of Reviews

NB: Assess each individual for the frequency of review as some individuals may need more regular interaction with their GP. Patients on ribavirin may need an FBE at 2 weeks and then 4 weekly.

For the cohort of patients suitable for GP prescribing (non-cirrhotic) that achieve SVR 12 with normal LFT results no follow up is required. Patients do need to be advised of the possibility of re-infection and protective measures need to be discussed if there is likely to be ongoing risk of exposure. Patients with unexplained persistent abnormal LFT results should be referred for gastroenterology review.

Patients with cirrhosis will have been managed during treatment by tertiary services and will require long-term monitoring.

For further information, or to access patient resources, contact:

Geelong Otway Tracey Roebuck  Mon - Wed 5222 0800
Wimmera Grampians

Krista Fischer 

Clair McDonald 

Mon - Fri

Mon, Wed & Thurs

5381 1756

5381 1756

Ballarat Goldfields Jacqui White  Mon - Fri 5304 5605
Great South Coast Raj Samrai  Mon - Fri 5564 5827

Alternatively, visit the hepatitis C page of HealthPathways.

New diabetes and emotional health handbook

Diabetes Australia

Diabetes Australia's new 'Diabetes and Emotional Health' handbook and toolkit are now available for download.  

The handbook has been designed as an evidence-based, practical resource to enable health professionals identify, address, and communicate issued about emotional problems during consultations with adults with diabetes. The toolkit contains resources to complement the handbook, including summary cards of several chapters, questionnaires for routine clinical use, and related factsheets for people with diabetes.

The 'Diabetes and Emotional Health' handbook and toolkit have been developed as part of the National Diabetes Services Scheme Mental Health and Diabetes National Development Programme.

Allied Health Workforce Research Program

DHHS  SCU logo

A Victorian government research program is examining workforce development issues preventing allied health professions from meeting service demand.

Southern Cross University has been commissioned to conduct a survey of allied health practitioners, to generate qualitative and quantitative information to inform future policy directions and allied health workforce strategies. Allied health disciplines being researched in the second year of the project include occupational therapy, social work, and psychology.

The research will inform policies and programs within the Department of Health & Human Services regarding health workforce development and reform for the allied health professions and the associated training system. This multi-year program will make an important contribution to an evidence base on selected allied health professions.

Information gathered from the survey will:

  • Assist employers understand what motivates their allied health staff to stay in clinical practice and to develop approaches to keep their staff engaged and delivering high quality care
  • Inform how allied health professionals work in the future, and could open up new areas of work that utilise the full scope of their clinical expertise.

Participate online (allow 15-20 minutes to complete the questionnaire) or visit for more information. 

SARRAH nursing and allied health scholarships   

SARRAH

Nursing and allied health practitioners are encouraged to apply for relevant support as part of Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health's (SARRAH) 2017 scholarships scheme. Applications for scholarships are now open and will close Monday 27 February 2017.

SARRAH has announced a limited round of scholarships for the 2017 academic year, with funding covering a 12-month period only. Details about scholarship categories and information about how to apply are available online

Time For Change substance misuse treatment program

Stepping-Up-Image-300x101

Steeping up Consortium's 'Time For Change' six week intensive day-treatment program provides a safe, respectful and non-judgmental environment for people to gain support and explore issues associated with substance misuse. The program provides evidence based techniques including:

  • Relapse prevention
  • Motivational interviewing
  • The cycle of addiction
  • ICE specific education including the neurological and physiological impacts of ICE use.

More information about dates and referrals is available online, by emailing or telephoning 0466 351 485.

Nominate for national nursing & midwifery awards

Nursing and Midwifery Awards

Nurses, midwives, personal care attendants and assistants in nursing are encouraged to nominate for the 2017 Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards, presented by HESTA. Nominations for award categories including Team Excellence, Outstanding Graduate, and Nurse or Midwife of the Year close Friday 24 February 2017. 

Winners, announced at the 2017 Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards dinner in Brisbane on Wednesday 10 May 2017, will share a $30,000 prize pool. 

Nominate online

Small Acts of Love: national dementia symposium

Celebrate Ageing

A symposium next week in Ballarat will explore the importance of love in the lives of people living with dementia. 'Small Acts of Love - A National Symposium on Dementia and Love' will present strategies for service providers and community members to enact the principles of dignity, choice and quality of life with meaning and purpose, outlined by the National Framework for action on Dementia.

Presenters include Sue Pieters Hawke, Alzheimer’s Australia ambassador, Federal Dementia Forum co-chair and daughter of Bob and the late Hazel Hawke.

The symposium is presented by Celebrate Ageing in partnership with the Australian Association of Gerontology, The City of Ballarat, The Ballarat North Neighbourhood House, Ballarat Health Services and is supported by Alzheimer's Australia Victoria.

Date: Tuesday 14 February - Wednesday 15 February 2017
Time: 8.30am - 5pm
Venue: Ballarat Mechanics Institute, 117 Sturt Street, Ballarat

Register online.

Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis: webinar

MHPN

A Mental Health Professionals Network webinar will explore Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide later this month. The discussion will also address: 

  • Key principles in the early identification of youth experiencing psychological distress
  • Appropriate referral pathways to prevent crises and provide early intervention
  • Challenges, tips and strategies to implement a collaborative response to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis.

Date: Thursday 23 February
Time: 7.15pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Online

Register online.

Musculoskeletal health webinar series

MOVE logo

A series of five webinars, providing clinically meaningful skills and knowledge to deliver recommended care of people with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, will begin later this month. The first webinar, 12.30 - 1.30 pm Tuesday 28 February 2017, will be hosted by Associate Professor Anna Barker (Monash University Health services research unit head) and will present an evidence-based approach to falls prevention. 

Subsequent webinars, conducted monthly, will address:

  • Exercises for mechanical neck pain
  • The management of low back pain
  • Common foot problems for people with musculoskeletal conditions
  • Pain management of inflammatory arthritis.

Full details of all webinars are available online and for more information, telephone Move on 1800 263 265. 

Women's health workshop 

Health Education Australia

A practical workshop later this month will canvass multiple aspects of women's health across the lifespan. 'Women's Health: A practical workshop from cradle to grave' will provide an opportunity for participants to apply their learnings by undertaking simulated patient scenarios. 

The online and face-to-face forum will also discuss: 

  • Family violence
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Genetic conditions
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Dementia.

Date: Friday 24 February 2017
Time: 9am - 5pm
Venue: 118 Queen Street, Melbourne

Register online.

Introduction to bowel cancer and screening webinar

  APNA National Bowel Cancer Screening

Primary health care nurses are invited to participate in a free webinar next month discussing the importance of bowel cancer screening. The 'Introduction to bowel cancer and screening' webinar will also cover: 

  • The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, including the Faecal Occult Blood Test
  • Information on the new National Cancer Screening Register
  • How nurses can work with patients to increase bowel cancer screening.

Date: Wednesday 1 March 2017
Time: 1pm - 2pm
Venue: Online

Register online and for more information email or telephone 1300 303 184.

Preventing chronic diseases seminar

Discussions about the relationship between Primary Health Networks and chronic disease prevention, the importance of sleep and oral health will feature at a new seminar in March, focusing on the prevention of chronic diseases in an ageing population. The Prevention of Chronic Diseases – Healthy Ageing seminar, hosted by the Australian Disease Management Association and Dementia Training Australia will feature presentations from Peter Breadon (Victorian Department of Health and Human Services), Professor Jonathan Shaw (Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute), and Elise Davies (North West Melbourne Primary Health Network) among others.

Date: Friday 24 March 2017
Time: 9.30 am - 4.30 pm
Venue: AMREP Lecture Theatre, The Alfred Hospital, Commercial Road, Melbourne

Registrations close Wednesday 17 March 2017.

Great South Coast

Domestic Violence Response Training

Lifeline

Lifeline's Domestic Violence Response Training next month will help allied and primary health care workers recognise the signs of domestic violence, respond appropriately and refer cases if necessary. The DV-alert training seeks to expand the knowledge and capacity of community frontline workers to provide appropriate support to women and children throughout Australia, commensurate with goals of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

Lifeline will cover reasonable costs of participants requiring travel, accommodation and staff back-fill. For more information email or telephone 5559 0521. 

Date: Wednesday 8 - Thursday 9 March 2017
Time: 8.45am - 4.30pm
Venue: Foreshore Pavilion, 50 Viaduct Road, Warrnambool 

Register online to attend.

Ballarat Goldfields

Join the HealthPathways neuro-vascular workgroup

Western Victoria PHN logo  HealthPathways

GPs throughout Ballarat and the Goldfields region with a strong working knowledge of the local health system, are encouraged to join a neuro-vascular workgroup, to help inform the delivery of Western Victoria Primary Health Network's online portal, HealthPathways

The workgroup will comprise a team of specialists (2-3), GPs (4) and key stakeholders who will work collaboratively to identify issues affecting each party’s ability to deliver optimum patient care in a particular service area. The workgroup will identify issues and propose solutions, and assist in prioritising HealthPathways development and guide the work of the local HealthPathways team.

The first neuro-vascular workgroup meeting will be held late February/ early March.

Workgroup members will likely meet three - four times (90 minutes each) over a 12-month period. Meetings will be held at Western Victoria PHN Ballarat between 6 pm - 7.30 pm, dinner is provided. 

Workgroup GPs do not write pathways, this is the role of the HealthPathways GP editors, but you may be asked for your input in terms of format and content.

GPs will be paid for attendance at workgroup meetings by Western Victoria PHN at the standard hourly rate (currently $150 per hour). GPs can apply for CPD points for participation in HealthPathways Workgroups.

To participate or for more information email Michelle Hearn, HealthPathways program officer or telephone 5304 5616 / 0400 341 394.

Small Acts of Love: national dementia symposium

Celebrate Ageing

A symposium will next week explore the importance of love in the lives of people living with dementia. 'Small Acts of Love - A National Symposium on Dementia and Love' will present strategies for service providers and community members to enact the principles of dignity, choice and quality of life with meaning and purpose, outlined by the National Framework for action on Dementia.

Presenters include Sue Pieters Hawke, Alzheimer’s Australia ambassador, Federal Dementia Forum co-chair and daughter of Bob and the late Hazel Hawke.

The symposium is presented by Celebrate Ageing in partnership with the Australian Association of Gerontology, The City of Ballarat, The Ballarat North Neighbourhood House, Ballarat Health Services and is supported by Alzheimer's Australia Victoria.

Date: Tuesday 14 February - Wednesday 15 February 2017
Time: 8.30am - 5pm
Venue: Ballarat Mechanics Institute, 117 Sturt Street, Ballarat

Register online.

Palliative care breakfast

Ballarat Hospice

Primary health carers are invited to a palliative care breakfast this month, hosted by Ballarat Hospice Care. The free breakfast forum will hear from Sharon Gibbens, Grampians Region Palliative Care Consortium and Dr Greg Mewett, Grampians Region Palliative Care Team. 

Presentations will cover:

  • The 'Navigating Palliative Care' project
  • Breakthrough pain.

Date: Thursday 16 February 2017
Time: 8am - 9am
Venue: The City Oval Hotel, Cnr. Mair / Pleasant Street, Ballarat

RSVP by Friday 10 February 2017 or telephone 5333 1118 for more information.

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update

HealthPathways

New on HealthPathways:

  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • Lymphoedema
  • Acute knee injuries
  • Transgender health and gender diversity
  • Novel oral anticoagulants.

Recently reviewed and updated:

  • Refugee health in adults
  • Gynaecology referral
  • Pelvic pain (chronic).

Visit HealthPathways for up-to-date, locally agreed guidelines.

Barwon Health referral templates for Pregnancy Care and Medical Day Stay Unit

Barwon Health

Barwon Health has produced an updated referral template for pregnancy care, reflecting changes to MBS billing for new clinical services and a new template for referring patients to Medical Day Stay Unit (January 2017) for an iron infusion.

The new template is available for download. Please replace the existing pregnancy care template and add the new template for Medical Day Stay Unit referrals. If you need assistance with downloading Barwon Health templates visit Healthpathways. For referrals to Medical Day Stay for an iron infusion please refer to the attached.

For more information contact Dr Jeff Urquhart or Sandra Lowther by telephoning 4215 8845 or by emailing.

Stolen Generation Apology anniversary morning tea

 Western Victoria PHN logo  Barwon Health

A morning tea will next week celebrate the ninth anniversary of the Apology to Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in the House of Representatives on 13 February 2008.

Western Victoria Primary Health Network staff and primary health practitioners are warmly invited to attend the morning tea where Colleen Howell (community elder and Stolen Generation member) and Robyn Hayles (Barwon Health interim deputy CEO) will speak. 

Date: Monday 13 February 2017
Time: 10.30am - 12pm
Venue: St Mary's Hall, Cnr. Bellerine/ Myers Street, Geelong

RSVP by Friday 10 February 2017.

River's Gift SIDS symposium

Rivers Gift

World leading SIDS researcher Dr Hannah Kinney (Boston Children's Hospital) will headline a symposium in March, on her first Australian visit. Dr Kinner will be joined at the River's Gift SIDS symposium by the University of Sydney's Dr Rita Machaalani and Fiona Bright, River's Gift SIDS research fellow. 

Join other primary health practitioners at this exciting event for an update on the latest in SIDS research. 

Date: Thursday 9 March 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 9pm
Venue: REACH Building Lecture Theatre (DD2.101) Deakin University Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds

Register online.

Urology research forum

SJOG

General practitioners are invited to attend a series of four presentaitons offering insights into latest urology research. The forum will discuss robotic surgery, PSA screening, sacral neuromodulation and management of renal cysts and masses. 

Date: Tuesday 28 February 2017
Time: 6pm - 8pm
Venue: St John of God Geelong Hospital, Education and Research Centre, 80 Myers Street Geelong

More information is available and please RSVP by Thursday 23 February 2017.

Grampians Wimmera

Have your say on local health issues

Grampians PCP

Residents throughout the Grampians and Wimmera regions are encouraged to provide valuable input into plans that will help improve local health. Recent data from the region shows that: 

  • The prevalence of diabetes is higher than the state average
  • Teenage birth rates have been consistently higher than the state average
  • More than 10% of residents had a high level of psychological distress - more than 80% of these people did not visit a health professional for this distress (2014).

The Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership initiative seeks constructive advice regarding:

  • What are some of the challenges for you and your community?
  • What do health services do well? What could be done better?
  • If every health problem in your community cost $1 to solve, what would you spend your $1 on?

Participate online before Tuesday 28 February 2017 or by telephoning 9020 4503.