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GP Refresher a great success

What a wonderful conference we had at the GP Refresher 2018 last weekend. I was so delighted to have the chance to meet many of you and to sit in on a number of excellent presentations over the two days.

Opportunities like this are invaluable for sharing information, experiences and skills, and just to put names to faces was really helpful. We have had great feedback on the event with some sessions so full that we had a standby arrangement.

We are always keen to support GPs and other health care professionals with new information as well as opening up opportunities for individuals to take on new challenges and leadership roles where possible. We do that in a number of ways from opportunities to present to peers at conferences and CPD events that we organize, through to support in recognized leadership roles in the sector.

A recent example of this was Dr Janelle Bennett, from The Cottage Medical Centre, being selected as a participant in the RACGP Future Leaders Programme for 2018. This initiative of the College was implemented to help build the GP leaders of the future. Western Victoria PHN was delighted to support Janelle’s application. Congratulations Janelle and we wish you every success in your endeavours.

Dr Leanne Beagley, Chief Executive Officer & Chair, Victorian PHN Alliance


GP Refresher 2018 draws the crowds
The Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017
From the Opioid Management Team: Addiction and the “accidental addict”
Changes to the PIP QI Incentive implementation date
Chief Health Officer Alert: Legionnaires' disease linked to Melbourne's Central Business District
Gardasil® 9 vaccine is now available
DHHS Close the Gap Conference Grants
TAC removes medical excess
Pelvic Pain Victoria seeks GP to join their committee
Masterclass in the Recognition & Nursing Management of an Imminently Dying person
GP anaesthetists (GPAs) discussion forum and networking evening
Wanting to upskill on skin cancer in your practice?

Ballarat Goldfields

HealthPathways update
Popular CPD event to be repeated in Ballarat: Prescribed Drugs of Dependence - Active Learning Module (ALM)
Reducing risk: Training Leaders in Mental Health First Aid

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update
Register to attend regional Maternal and Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity Committee
Women's Health: an update in ultrasound - post menopausal bleeding and perinatal diagnosis
Wound management education: Moisture associated skin complications

Greast South Coast

HealthPathways update
Emergency Management of Severe Burns Course

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update
Weaving culturally safe networks to promote positive health outcomes
Wimmera Health Care Group trialling new telehealth program


GP Refresher 2018 draws the crowds

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This year’s GP Refresher event held at Deakin University was a major success. The theme – Pain, Distress and Palliation provided over 180 general practitioners with contemporary information around a number of informative topics such as:

  • Mental Health – Pain management and strategies
  • End of life distress – pain management and more
  • Geriatric Dilemmas – Describing & maintaining quality of life
  • Airway Skills workshop including CPR update and more.

General practitioners travelled to Geelong from as far as Nhill, traversing the western part of the State for a valuable professional development activity. Networking, catching up with colleagues and accruing continuous professional development points was all part of a jam-packed weekend.

The feedback from the event has been extremely positive. Western Vic PHN staff were on hand to assist and provide advice around:

  • My Health Record
  • Go Share
  • Safe Script and Pharmacotherapy
  • Health Pathways and much more.

Western Victoria PHN's CEO, Leanne Beagley, opened the event on Saturday providing contextual information about Western Victoria PHN and welcomed the 180+ delegates to Geelong.

The sponsors were also in full force and they included Bayer and Servier along with MSD, the Geelong Clinic, Epworth Geelong, Clinicalabs, Novataris, Epworth Medical Imaging and Hospice Foundation.

Western Victoria PHN would like to thank their valuable sponsors for a successful weekend along with Deakin University who provided the venue and two medical students to assist.

We hope to see you at the 2019 event!

The Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017

Western Victoria PHN logo

The Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Act 2017 makes it mandatory to report eligible data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and affected individuals, taking effect on 22 February 2018.

Entities have data breach notification obligations when a data breach is likely to result in serious harm to any individuals whose personal information is involved in the breach.

This mandated requirement applies to all organisations covered by the Privacy Act (1988), including all not for profits and business (including general practice, allied health etc) with annual turnover greater than 3 million dollars

The new scheme is designed to strengthen the protections afforded to everyone’s personal information, and will improve transparency in the way that the public and private sectors respond to serious data breaches. It will also give individuals the opportunity to take steps to minimise the damage that can result from unauthorised use of their personal information.

To find out more, please see this summary by the RACGP.

From the Opioid Management Team: Addiction and the “accidental addict”

Western Victoria PHN logo

Addiction by definition is complex: defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It is often considered a brain disease because drugs change brain function and structure. Addiction may refer to a substance dependence such as drug addiction or behavioural addiction such as gambling addiction. The most common symptoms of addiction are severe loss of control, continued use despite serious consequences, preoccupation with using, failed attempts to quit, tolerance and withdrawal. Addiction hijacks the brain’s neural pathways. Scientists are challenging the view that it is a moral failing and researching treatments that could offer an exit from the cycle of desire, bingeing, and withdrawal that affects tens of millions of people.

People who are recovering from an addiction may be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioural therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patient’s drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery. Addiction, often referred to as dependency often leads to tolerance - the addicted person needs larger and more regular amounts of whatever they are addicted to in order to receive the same effect. Often, although the initial reward is no longer felt, and the addiction continues due to complex individual psychological and structural issues requiring support compounded by withdrawal being so unpleasant.

Most people think of illegal drugs when they hear the word “addiction”. However, prescription drug addiction is becoming a serious public health problem in Australia; doctors today treat pain differently than they used to years ago. This change has led to an increase in problematic prescription drug misuse. People do not plan to get addicted to drugs, they are reliant on and respectful of the expert clinical judgement of the general practitioner. However, when they first take a drug, they might like how it makes them feel. They believe they can control how much and how often they take the drug. Those who used drugs in the beginning to feel good now may need to take drugs just to feel normal.

Ongoing education and support is essential to curb the risk of addiction. Addiction can happen to anyone and at any age, but the chances are higher when a person starts drug use when they are young. The rate of accidental deaths due to opioids is increasing and has more than doubled among Australians aged 35 to 44 since 2007 with more than two-thirds of the deaths are due to pharmaceutical opioids rather than heroin, a report from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has found. Scores of people use opioids successfully to alleviate excruciating pain after a car accident, or to dampen crippling feelings of anxiety, pain and panic, but more and more patients are finding themselves addicted to these drugs, even when they follow the doctor's instructions to the letter. These accidental addicts may present following the recent up scheduling of codeine containing products by the Therapeutic and Goods Administration (effective Feb 1st 2018).

Opioid dependence and codeine misuse and dependence HealthPathways have been developed to support Health Professionals to manage these people in the community.

For further reading and resources about addiction, see the articles and links below:

For more information or assistance contact:

Geelong Otway region - Pene Wood, Tel: 5222 0800
Great South Coast region - Amy Collins, Tel: 5564 5888 or Raj Samrai, Tel: 5564 5827
Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham regions: Jacqueline Keevins, Tel: 5338 0511.

Changes to the PIP QI Incentive implementation date

Department of Health

The Commonwealth Government has decided that the implementation date of the Practice Incentive Program Quality Improvement (QI) Incentive will now occur from 1 May 2019.

The Practice Incentive Program (PIP) has been a key driver in quality care in the general practice sector and the PIP QI Incentive will continue to build on this important work, further strengthening quality improvement in primary health care.

As announced in the 2017-18 Federal Budget measure Quality Improvement in General Practice, the design of the new QI Incentive will support general practice to better understand the quality of care being delivered, leading to better outcomes for patients. However it is important that we get this right. The additional 12 months will enable the Department to ensure that any implementation issues are identified and addressed and that general practices have adequate opportunity to prepare.

Through practice support teams, Primary Health Networks are already working closely with many practices to implement quality improvement – this work should not be slowed due to the new implementation date. The additional time frame will also allow the Department to have more detailed conversations with practice support staff on how quality improvement is delivered in each region.

The changed time frame will mean that the following five incentives which were to cease on 1 May 2018, will now continue through to 30 April 2019:

  • Asthma Incentive
  • Quality Prescribing Incentive
  • Cervical Screening Incentive
  • Diabetes Incentive, and
  • General Practitioner Aged Care Access Incentive.

The six PIP Incentives that continue to remain unchanged are:

  • eHealth Incentive
  • After Hours Incentive
  • Rural Loading Incentive
  • Teaching Payment
  • Indigenous Health Incentive, and
  • Procedural General Practitioner Payment.

VictorianGovernment logo

Chief Health Officer Alert:
Legionnaires' disease linked to Melbourne's Central Business District

Three cases of Legionnaires' disease (Legionella pneumophila, serogroup 1) have been identified in the last fortnight involving individuals who have spent time in the south eastern area of Melbourne's Central Business District (CBD).

Be alert for Legionnaires’ disease in patients with influenza-like symptoms, particularly those with severe pneumonia, who have been around the Melbourne CBD since late January 2018.

If you suspect Legionnaires’ disease, request urinary antigen testing through your normal pathology provider. As a priority, order Legionella culture on sputum, and undertake serology on blood at baseline and 14 days later.

Legionnaires’ disease is a Group A notifiable condition which requires immediate notification on suspicion to the Department of Health and Human Services on 1300 651 160.

Read more

Gardasil® 9 vaccine is now available 

Please note that when placing your next routine vaccine order:

  • To only order Gardasil® 9 vaccine and not Gardasil®
  • Gardasil® 9 is being offered through the school program
  • You can order a maximum quantity of five doses.

Please see this Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation Clinical Advice for Gardasil® 9.

DHHS Close the Gap Conference Grants

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services is offering 10 grants of up to $500 to support individuals to attend the Close the Gap for Vision by 2020: Striving Together – National Conference 2018 on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 March 2018 at The Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Please see this Conference Grant Application Form for details and eligibility requirements. Grant applications close Tuesday 6 March 2018.

For conference information and to register for the 'Close the Gap for Vision by 2020: Striving Together – National Conference 2018' please see this Eventbrite website. Please note that registrations close Wednesday 7 March 2018.

TAC removes medical excess

TAC logo

Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) has removed its medical excess, one of several changes introduced to improve the health outcomes of TAC clients.

For accidents on or after 14 February 2018, TAC clients no longer have to pay a portion of their medical expenses before the TAC covers the costs. Clients can immediately seek treatment without worrying about out of pocket expenses.

The excess for medical services had long been confusing for people injured in transport accidents and their health and service providers.

From mid-March, the TAC will also offer a wide range of pre-approved treatments and services, which you can deliver, and refer patients to, without sending a request or calling the TAC first. TAC assure payment in line with the TAC fee schedule for any treatment or service on the pre-approved list, with no need to contact the TAC beforehand.

You will also no longer need to send reports or clinical notes unless you receive a request from the TAC. Real-time monitoring will flag unusual service consumption, prompting the TAC to contact you, or the client, only when needed.

These changes follow September 2017’s launch of LanternPay, a digital point-of-sale solution accessible via desktop, tablet, smartphone or integrated practice software. LanternPay has improved providers' cash flow and eliminated the need to submit paper invoices or follow up payments.

For more information about ongoing improvements for providers, visit the TAC website..

Pelvic Pain Victoria seeks GP to join their committee

Pelvic Pain Victoria

Pelvic Pain Victoria is looking for a GP who might be interested in representing GPs on their committee to provide a primary care perspective. 

Pelvic Pain Victoria is a multidisciplinary group of physiotherapists, psychologists, obstetricians, gynaecologists, gastroenterologists and pain physicians that meet twice a year for a dinner and lectures, along with a weekend workshop every two years.

Their next dinner meeting is at the RACV Club, 501 Bourke St, Melbourne on Wednesday 7 March.

Please contact Dr Marilla Druitt Obstetrician Gynaecologist on 0418 520 257 if you're interested.

Masterclass in the Recognition & Nursing Management of an Imminently Dying person

Centre for Palliative Care Feb 18

Are you a registered or enrolled nurse who is wishing to learn more about caring for a dying person?

This one-day Masterclass is for nurses working in the non-palliative care setting, who would like to know more about caring for dying patients. Experienced palliative care nurses will present and facilitate the program.

The Program's objectives are to:

  • Recognise the signs that suggest a person is likely to be imminently dying
  • Anticipate the symptoms common in dying patients and understand how to respond with evidence based strategies to manage both the patient and the family’s needs
  • Describe the care of a person before and after they die
  • Be familiar with the Victorian legislative changes as they relate to decision making.

Date: Wednesday 21 March
Time: 9am - 4.30pm
Venue: Education & Simulation Centre, 3rd Floor Healy Wing – Building C, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, 41 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy

To find out more, including registration details, see the Centre for Palliative Care website.

GP anaesthetists (GPAs) discussion forum and networking evening

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RACGP Rural is pleased to invite general practitioner anaesthetists (GPAs) to the inaugural discussion forum/networking event especially for GPAs.

This twilight event is designed to give GPAs an opportunity to hear from experts in this space, discuss current issues and to network with other GPAs.

It is hoped that by the end of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Identify current issues facing general practice anaesthetists
  • Clarify a group consensus on the proposed new diploma
  • Plan recommendations for the future.

Date: Tuesday 17 April
Time: 6pm - 7pm
Venue: John Murtagh Centre, RACGP House, 100 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

To find out more, including registration details, see this flyer.

Wanting to upskill on skin cancer in your practice?

Skin Cancer Foundation

This interactive Skin Cancer Workshop will provide practical training in identifying, understanding and managing skin lesions, melanomas and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Date: Saturday 21 April 2018
Time: 8.30am - 5.15pm
Venue: Level 1, 80 Drummond St, Carlton

To find out more, including registration details, visit the Skin & Cancer Foundation website

Ballarat Goldfields 

HealthPathways update


New on HealthPathways:

  • Opioid Replacement Therapy
  • Anxiety and Depression in Adults
  • Chronic Pain
  • Opioid Dependence
  • Codeine Misuse and Dependence
  • Tremor
  • Q Fever
  • Acute Respiratory Assessment
  • Non-Acute Respiratory Assessment
  • Respiratory Advice
  • Intermittent Claudication
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alcohol Withdrawal.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines see HealthPathways.

Popular CPD event to be repeated in Ballarat:
Prescribed Drugs of Dependence - Active Learning Module (ALM)

Western Victoria PHN logo Orticare.160359

Following on from the success of the 2017 event, Western Victoria PHN and Orticare are pleased to announce that we are repeating the Prescribed Drugs of Dependence Active Learning Module (ALM). This free CPD event has been accredited for 40 Category 1 points as part of the RACGP QI&CPD Program in the 2017-19 Triennium (Activity: 106170).

The event aims to assist GPs in:

  • Identifying and managing patients with problematic use of prescribed drugs of dependence
  • Improving the quality and safety of prescribing of drugs of dependence in general practice
  • Understanding Schedule 8 permits, when they are required and how to obtain them
  • Understanding the implications of changes to over-the-counter codeine availability and the introduction of Real Time Prescription Monitoring
  • Understanding the role of allied health in managing chronic pain patients
  • Interpreting the RACGP clinical guidelines for drugs of dependence and understanding how they may be incorporated into general practice
  • Improved referral pathways between general practices and AOD services.

Dates: Thursday 22 March, Thursday 26 April, Thursday 24 May
Time: 6:30pm - 7:00pm (registration & light refreshments), 7:00pm - 9:00pm (event)

Please note that attendance at all three sessions is required to gain your 40 Cat 1 RACGP QI&CPD points.

For more information on this free CPD event, see this flyer. To register, please follow this link or email Katrina Martin or Debra Harris for more information.

Reducing risk: Training Leaders in Mental Health First Aid

UFS WorkHealth

This two-day Mental Health First Aid course teaches employees how to offer initial support to colleagues developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis, until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

In this evidence-based course, participants learn about the signs and symptoms of the common and disabling mental health problems, how to provide initial help, where and how to get professional help, what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and how to provide first aid in a crisis situation.

Dates: Thursday 22 March and Friday 23 March (Course 1), Thursday 19 April and Friday 20 April (Course 2)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm each day
Venue: UFS Dispensaries Training Facility, 206 Armstrong St Nth, Ballarat

To find out more, including registration details, please see this flyer.

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update


New on HealthPathways:

  • Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Epilepsy in Adults and Anti-epileptic drugs
  • Tremor
  • Q fever
  • Problem Gambling.

Recently reviewed and updated HealthPathways:

  • High Risk Foot Assessment
  • Opioid Replacement Therapy
  • Immunisation – Adolescents
  • Radiology Referrals
  • Chronic Pain
  • Drug and Alcohol Assessment and Support
  • Pharmacy Management of Codeine Dependence.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines visit HealthPathways.

Register to attend regional Maternal and Perinatal Mortality and Morbidity Committee

Womens Hospital logo

You're invited to attend and participate in the next regional Maternal & Perinatal Mortality & Morbidity Committee meeting for the Barwon region. The role of the meeting is to:

  • Conduct timely peer review of all perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality across the region based on PSANZ guidelines
  • Review clinical management against current peer reviewed best practice management
  • Develop recommendations to improve clinical care in maternity services.

Date: Friday 2 March
Time: 1.30pm - 3pm
Venue: John Lindell Lecture Theatre, Level 4 Kardinia House, Geelong Hospital, Bellerine St, Geelong

Please contact Apryl Geale to register on 9345 3911.

Women's Health: An update in ultrasound - post menopausal bleeding and perinatal diagnosis

Epworth logo

Epworth Geelong and Siles Health are hosting a Category 2 update for GPs focusing on early pregnancy dating and viability, post-menopausal bleeding and prenatal testing and ultrasound at Siles Health.

Speakers include:

  • Rosheen Green – Sonographer
    Early pregnancy-dating and viability
  • Dr Charles Siles – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
    Post-menopausal bleeding
  • Deborah James – Associate Generic Counsellor, Siles Health
    Prenatal testing and ultrasound at Siles Health.

Date: Tuesday 6 March
Time: 6.30pm - 9.15pm
Venue: Epworth Geelong, Level 1, Seminar room, 1 Epworth Place, Waurn Ponds

To find out more, see this flyer.

Wound management education: Moisture associated skin complications

Wounds Australia

Sara Sage, Wound CNC at Melbourne Health and Dr Jill Campbell, Registered Nurse and Visiting Fellow from Queensland University will present on clinical and practical aspects as well as new research on moisture associated skin complications.

Date: Tuesday 20 March
Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Kitchener Health Education & Research Building, Level 1, KHERB Auditorium, 285 - 299 Ryrie St, Geelong.

For further information, including registration details, please see this flyer.

Great South Coast

HealthPathways update


Recently localised HealthPathways with south west information:

  • Pain Specialist Assessment (Non-acute, Advice)
  • Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
  • Alcohol Brief Intervention
  • Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Drug and Alcohol Assessment and Support
  • Cognitive Impairment and Dementia
  • General Medicine Referrals – Acute, Non acute and Advice
  • Dietetics Referral
  • Community Asthma Education and Support
  • Paediatric referrals - Acute, Non-Acute and Advice
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Drug and Alcohol Counselling - public brief intervention services.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines see HealthPathways.

Emergency Management of Severe Burns Course


This course is aimed at all health professionals who may find themselves having to care for an acute severely burnt patient. It will supplement existing clinical knowledge and teach participants how to recognise, assess, stabilise and transfer the severely burnt patient. A manual, outlining all aspects of the emergency management of burns is distributed approximately three weeks before commencement of the course.

Date: Saturday 14 April
Time: 7.30am - 5.45pm
Venue: Warrnambool Hospital

To find out more, please see this flyer and Registration Form.

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update


New to HealthPathways:

  • Acute Respiratory Assessment
  • Non-acute Respiratory Assessment
  • Respiratory Advice
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Problem Gambling
  • Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Q Fever
  • Radiology Referrals
  • Chronic Pain
  • Opioid Dependence
  • Codeine Misuse and Dependence.

To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines see HealthPathways

Weaving culturally safe networks to promote positive health outcomes

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Thirty women from Horsham, Stawell and Ararat participated in a weaving workshop on Friday 16 February to encourage supportive networks for Aboriginal women impacted by domestic violence, mental health issues, chronic disease and substance abuse.

The day began with a health presentation, Acknowledgement to Country and distribution of health promotion brochures, which were well received by participants.

The Weaving Workshop was organised by Western Victoria PHN with support from Budja Budja Neighbourhood House, Grampians Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group/CIF funds, Grampians Community Health, and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative who kindly lent their bus to bring women from the Horsham region to Halls Gap for the Workshop. Members from the Elder’s Craft Group from Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative also attended and great feedback was received on the day.

These Weaving Workshops will hopefully become part of the Celebrating Sistas program at Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Co-operative in the future.

Wimmera Health Care Group trialling new telehealth program

Wimmera Health Care Group image small

Wimmera Health Care Group is partnering with West Wimmera Health Service to trial a program to help people who attend urgent care centres in the region see a doctor without travelling beyond their local health service.

Director of clinical services Don McRae said the trial would use the innovative new afterhours care system using video conferencing would work across the Wimmera.

“This will be a huge benefit to urgent care centres such as Nhill because their patients will have greater access to health care professionals,” Mr McRae said.

“When a person attends afterhours and there is no doctor on, a nurse will assess them and if they need to see a doctor, will connect the person via telehealth with one in the Horsham Emergency Department.

“The patient will either then be admitted, transferred or sent home.”

Mr McRae said the program was being trialed between the hours of 5 - 10pm, seven days a week, and started from Monday 12 February.

“We think this program will benefit patients, doctors, nurses and also reduce the burden on Ambulance Victoria who occasionally had to transfer patients to Horsham, when they could have been assessed via telehealth.”

If the program is successful, it will be expanded to other urgent care centres across the Wimmera.