DArcy Photography Leanne Beagley 070 cropped and resized2

Coeliac Disease Awareness Week

This week is Coeliac Awareness Week. The aim of the week is to inform people of the disease, its symptoms, associated medical conditions, as well as support and advice in managing the condition.

Nowadays most people would know someone who is coeliac; people who are careful to follow a gluten free diet. In fact in Australia, one in seventy people have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, whilst another four out of five Australians remain undiagnosed.

At this stage researchers don't really know what causes the disease. Coeliac disease causes damage to the intestine and this happens slowly, and the symptoms can vary from person to person - so it can take years to get a diagnosis.

If we look at our western Victorian community of close to 580,000, then potentially we have over 8,200 people who have coeliac disease – that is a huge impact on the health of our community.

Coeliac Australia has some excellent resources online to assist health professionals in diagnosing the condition, including excellent videos, articles and templates. You can find them here: https://www.coeliac.org.au/resources/

Coeliac Australia also has an online self-assessment that patients could work through themselves. You can find it here: https://www.coeliac.org.au/assess/

I hope we can reach out to those in our community who have this condition and support them with advice and information.

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


From the Opioid Management Team: Do pain killers ‘kill’ pain?
Chief Health Officer Alert: confirmed measles cases in Melbourne
This Girl Can: share your active story
GPs invited to join influenza surveillance program
Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence: training and workshop
Fundamentals in Obstetric Care workshop
2018 Practice Manager of the Year Awards open
Australian Disease Management Association conference: call for abstracts

Ballarat Goldfields

HealthPathways update
Popular CPD event to be repeated in Ballarat:
Prescribed Drugs of Dependence - Active Learning Module (ALM)
Emotional Self-care and Resilience forum
Teamwork Skills and Leadership Styles forum

Geelong Otway

Invitation to join HealthPathways Plastic Surgery Workgroup
HealthPathways update
Apply now for our Nurse Practitioner Scholarships

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update


From the Opioid Management Team: Do pain killers ‘kill’ pain?

Western Victoria PHN logo

Whether we like it or not, pain is an experience that almost everybody will have at some time. In fact, one in five Australian adults report persistent or chronic pain.

Many will manage it themselves but a significant number will seek advice from their GP, a nurse, a local pharmacist or a pain specialist. The prevalence of pain places a huge burden on the patient, their family and loved ones as well as the health care services and the wider community. Indeed the burden of pain is huge, in humanitarian, health care and financial terms.

Pain is Australia’s third most costly health problem and arguably the developed world’s largest ‘undiscovered’ health priority. Derived from the Latin word 'poena,' meaning a fine, punishment or a penalty, the many manifestations of pain be it acute, chronic, breakthrough or bone pain all share a common thread: an unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony.

Much is known about the nature of pain and the changes in the central nervous system that lead to the debilitating and costly condition of chronic pain. Acute pain is a normal part of life and it is important not to medicalise the everyday experience of sore muscles and joints, aches and hurt from minor bumps and bruises. However, it is equally important to recognise the seriousness of disabling chronic pain. Chronic pain may be related to a number of different medical conditions including diabetes, arthritis, migraine, fibromyalgia, cancer, shingles, sciatica, and previous trauma or injury.

There is a variety of treatment options for people in pain with the ultimate goal of pain management to provide symptom relief and improve an individual's level of functioning in daily activities. A number of medication types are used in the management of chronic pain, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, COX-2 inhibitors, antimigraine medications, sedatives, antidepressants and opioids.

Pain medications simply mask symptoms; they do not treat the root cause of pain. This is why many health professionals focus on making a diagnosis and addressing the cause of the pain whenever possible to help improve function rather than just how one feels.

In chronic pain pharmacological intervention modifies the pain only to a modest extent and there is no such thing as a ‘pain killer.’ These medications relieve chronic pain, first by interfering with and blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain, and then by working in the brain to alter the sensation of pain. These drugs neither find nor kill pain, but reduce and alter the user's perception of the pain.

Chronic pain management should not rely on pharmacological therapy alone but also combine non-pharmacological treatments such as exercise, physical therapy, counselling, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, acupuncture, hypnosis, chiropractic medicine, and other treatment options.

The Western Victoria PHN has developed a number of HealthPathways to support pain management as well as the prescribing of opioids in both the acute and chronic pain setting.

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 or Hanna Buttieieg Tel. 5222 0800
Great South Coast region - Amy Collins, Tel: 5564 5888 or Raj Samrai, Tel: 5564 5827.

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Chief Health Officer Alert: confirmed measles cases in Melbourne

Two confirmed cases of measles in Melbourne are reported by the Chief Health Officer, with both infections likely to have been acquired overseas.

The cases are unrelated and the infections were acquired in different countries - Indonesia and Malaysia.

Case 1 was infectious whilst at a number of places across Melbourne between 3 March and 7 March including Flinders Street Station and around the CBD, as well as Phillip Island and multiple sites along the Great Ocean Road between Geelong and Warrnambool.

Case 2 was infectious on AirAsia flight D7241 from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne and at Tullamarine Airport on Wednesday March 7 from 9:30am until midday. Be alert for measles in patients presenting with a fever at rash onset, particularly if they attended any of the places listed.

Notify the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Section at the Department of Health and Human Services by telephone 1300 651 160 of suspected cases immediately.

Read more

This Girl Can: share your active story

A new Victorian government campaign seeks to empower women to become more physically active, regardless of their background, ability, age or body shape. This Girl Can, which will launch later this month, is based in part on a similar initiative in the UK that was reported to have inspired 2.8 million women to be more physically active.

Women are invited to share their story online about a favourite way to get active, or an inspiration for other women. The campaign has also developed a new guide on getting active.

GPs invited to join influenza surveillance program


The Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) is inviting GPs to join the 2018 Victorian Sentinel Practice Influenza Network (VicSPIN) influenza surveillance program.

The influenza surveillance program is coordinated by the VIDRL on behalf of the Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services. The program monitors influenza like illness and laboratory-confirmed influenza in the community, measures influenza vaccine effectiveness, and provides GPs with the opportunity to take diagnostic swabs to test for influenza and participate in an active surveillance program.

The 2018 influenza season is predicted to run from 30 April to 4 November.

To be eligible to receive points GPs must:

  • Return 90% of the weekly tally sheets during the year
  • Return swabs for at least 25 ILI patients over the 2017-2019 triennium (please note that GPs joining in 2018 will need to collect and return swabs for 25 patients in the two years remaining in the 2017-2019 triennium).

RACGP and ACCRM points will be accredited by the Australian Sentinel Practices Research Network (ASPREN), on behalf of VicSPIN. GPs meeting reporting and swabbing requirements will receive:

  • 40 Category 1 points at the end of the 2017-2019 triennium
  • 10 Category 2 points for each year of participation during the triennium.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of the program please contact the VicSPIN by email or telephone Kristina Grant 03 9342 9372.

Read more

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence: training and workshop


The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACPG) is offering an online training and face-to-face workshop examining medication assisted treatment for opioid dependence.

Online training seeks to provide opioid prescribers with information and strategies for safer prescribing of opioids in chronic pain settings. By the conclusion of the two-hour training it is hoped participants will be able to: 

  • Implement safe and effective opioid prescribing as part of a broader pain management plan
  • Summarise the potential benefits and risks associated with opioid prescribing
  • Recognise, prevent and respond to problematic pharmaceutical opioid use
  • Assess the appropriateness of and commence induction of a patient on one of opioid replacement therapies.

To register for online training module please visit the RACGP events page

A series of full-day workshops throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria meanwhile are suited to prescribers with a need to prescribe pharmacotherapy to more than five patients with opioid dependence.

The workshop seeks to assist participants: 

  • Outline the potential benefits and risks associated with opioid prescribing
  • Recognise, prevent and respond to problematic pharmaceutical opioid use
  • Identify the legal issues regarding the prescribing of buprenorphine and methadone
  • Implement safe and effective opioid and or methadone prescribing as part of a broader pain management plan
  • Safely and effectively prescribe buprenorphine and or methadone for opioid dependence.

For more information on dates, locations and how to register for the full day workshops please see this flyer

Fundamentals in Obstetric Care workshop

Monash University

Obstetric registrars, GP-obstetricians, midwives and hospital medical officers are invited to a two-day workshops covering the fundamentals in obstetric care. The forum, hosted by Monash University, is intended to enhance participants' understanding of understanding and management of common complications of pregnancy and birth, including:

  • Physiological adaptations to pregnancy and regulation of labour
  • Fetal adaptations to extra-uterine life
  • Aneuploidy Screening
  • Immunisation in pregnancy
  • Neonatal outcomes of late preterm birth.

Participants are also welcome to present case studies for further discussion.

Date: Friday 20 - Saturday 21 April
Time: Friday 7.30am - 6pm, Saturday 7.30am - 3.30pm
Venue: Seminar Rooms 1 and 2, Translational Research Facility, Monash Medical Centre, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton

For more information and to register please see this flyer

2018 Practice Manager of the Year Awards open

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Applications for the 2018 Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) Practice Manager of the Year Awards are now open. The awards are an opportunity to be recognised and rewarded for your special contributions to medical, specialist, dental or allied health practice management.

Practice Managers may be nominated by practice owners, principals and colleagues using the online nomination form. The nominated practice manager will then be invited to complete an online application form (practice managers can complete the application form without being nominated).

Each State Practice Manager of the Year will receive flights, accommodation and registration for the 2018 National Conference in Canberra. The recipient of each State Award will also be a finalist for the National Practice Manager of the Year Award.

Applications close Tuesday 8 May 2018.

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Australian Disease Management Association conference: call for abstracts


The Australian Disease Management Association conference committee is inviting submissions for oral and poster presentation at its 14th annual forum in September. Presentations will address the key theme, 'Engagement and Integration of Chronic Care Enablement, Empowerment and Activation.'

Abstracts for oral presentations can be submitted by email by 5pm Tuesday 24 April 2018. Poster abstracts can by submitted by email by 5pm Friday 31 August 2018.

Read more

Ballarat Goldfields 

HealthPathways update


New on HealthPathways:

  • High Risk Foot Assessment
  • Continence Specialist Services
  • 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.

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.

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Emotional Self-care and Resilience forum

Ballarat Health Services, in partnership with The University of Melbourne, will present an information session, covering emotional self-care and resilience. The forum will approach resilience from a cognitive-behavioural theory and positive psychology perspective and will cover a range of simple activities that can assist participants be more resilient and less exposed to stress.

Date: Wednesday 2 May
Time: 5.30pm - 8.30pm
Venue: Ballarat Base Hospital, Education Resource Centre Ballarat Health Services, Drummond Street North, Ballarat

For more information and to register, please see this flyer

Teamwork Skills and Leadership Styles forum

Ballarat Health Services and The University of Melbourne, will also present an information session examining teamwork and leadership. The forum will consider what teamwork and leadership means and the factors that contribute to teamwork excellence.

Date: Wednesday 9 May
Time: 6pm - 7.30pm
Venue: Ballarat Base Hospital, Education Resource Centre Ballarat Health Services, Drummond Street North, Ballarat

For more information and to register, please see this flyer.

Geelong Otway


Invitation to join HealthPathways Plastic Surgery Workgroup

HealthPathways is an online portal for general practitioners and primary care providers that contains locally agreed, evidence based clinical information as well as local service referral information. The HealthPathways program has worked with more than 13 different clinical streams and is now commencing a plastic surgery stream in April 2018. We are looking for GPs to participate in the workgroup process.

What is a workgroup?
A workgroup consists of a team of specialists (two-three), GPs (four) and key stakeholders who work collaboratively to identify issues affecting each party’s ability to deliver optimum patient care in a particular service area. The workgroup identifies issues and proposes solutions, including HealthPathway development.

The workgroup assists in prioritizing HealthPathways development and guide the work of the local HealthPathways team.

General practitioners with a working knowledge of the local health system who are enthusiastic and constructive advocates for primary care.

What will I signed up for by joining a Workgroup?
The commitment will likely involve three workgroup meetings (90 minutes each) over a 12-month period. Meetings will be held at Western Victoria Primary Health Network, 131 Myers Street, Geelong in the evening from 6pm - 7.30pm (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 Primary Health Network at the standard hourly rate (currently $150 per hour) and can apply for CPD points for participation in HealthPathways workgroups.

Please contact Western Victoria Primary Health Network's Geelong Otway HealthPathways lead Jo Lee by Friday 23 March if you would like to participate or if you have any questions.

HealthPathways update

New on HealthPathways:

  • Sedation for MRI in Adults
  • Orthopaedic Assessment – Acute, non-acute and Advice
  • Q Fever
  • Cardiac Drugs and Monitoring
  • Sleep Medicine Specialist
  • Respiratory Assessment – Acute, non-Acute and Advice.

Recently reviewed and updated HealthPathways:

  • Continence Specialist Services
  • Maternal and Child Health Nursing
  • High risk Foot Assessment
  • Gastroenterology Assessment – Acute, non-acute and advice
  • Immunisation – Adolescents
  • Medications in Chronic Pain
  • Knee Osteoarthritis.

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

Apply now for our Nurse Practitioner Scholarships!

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Western Victoria PHN is pleased to again offer Barwon South West Pharmacotherapy Area Based Network (PABN) scholarships for nurse practitioners.

These scholarships are offered to increase the number and capacity of Nurse Practitioners prescribing Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependency in the region, which will add significant value to primary care systems.

Applications are now open for Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Registered Nurses (Division 1) practicing in the Barwon South West PABN region who are, or wish to, undertake the Masters of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) course. Preference will be given to those nurses already working in AOD service delivery.

Last year’s recipient, Alison Ford, said she wanted to become part of a collaborative health care team that's delivering services in the community to ease the burden of time pressures on GP’s and in effect provide assistance and support to people wishing to decrease their dependence on opioids.

Alison Ford

"The more I work in preventative primary health care, the more I realise the positive impacts it has for individuals and for the health care system at large," Alison said.

How to apply
Please read these Guidelines and Agreement, complete this two-page Application Form and email to pene.wood@westvicphn.com.au by close of business, Friday 14 April 2018.
Successful applicants will be advised by 28 April 2018.

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update


New on HealthPathways:

  • Acute Orthopaedic Assessment
  • Non-acute Orthopaedic Assessment
  • Orthopaedic Advice
  • 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 visit HealthPathways.