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Connecting the health sector

Yesterday I attended the first meeting of the Community Health Taskforce. I was appointed by the Victorian Minister for Health and am looking forward to being the representative for PHNs. I will keep you updated on the issues raised and particularly the opportunities to encourage you as our community partners to become involved in a consultation process to improve the work and local health impact of community health services. These services are such an important part of the primary care system.

In the past week, I visited and met with hospital leaders at Cobden, Terang, SouthWest Healthcare, Portland and the Board of Heywood Rural Health. I learned so much about the good work happening in partnership with local primary care providers, the PHN and the opportunities ahead - especially to build leadership across allied health and the community based chronic conditions model of care. Earlier this week I also spoke to all CEOs of rural health services in Victoria about the PHN model, local primary care delivery and workforce challenges and future opportunities.

Such meetings provide rich opportunities for us and primary health care providers to build bridges and make connections. Here in the primary care environment, the challenge is to bring practitioners together for shared impact and that’s what I am focused on in western Victoria level. We are keen to make sure that our role in facilitating communication, building knowledge and advocating for the primary care service delivery sector grows and delivers real impact for our community. 

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


Western Victoria PHN 2018 Director Nominations
Expressions of Interest: GP Media Leads and CPD Advisor
Bringing specialist care to regional and rural health services
Oesophagogastric Cancer Optimal Care Pathway – new resources
Update to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and colonoscopy referrals
HealthPathways update
Winter Symposium conference footage release
Further events

Ballarat Goldfields 

Springs Medical receives RACGP 2018 Victorian Practice of the Year award
Patient activation training
Mental Health First Aid course

Geelong Otway

Let's Work Together allied health forum
Perinatal morbidity and mortality lecture
Diabetes update for health professionals

Great South Coast 

Improving accessibility to doctors for secondary students in Camperdown
Clinical Placement Program in Cancer Survivorship

Wimmera Grampians

Get in quick! MBS & Chronic Disease Care Planning Workshop Stawell
Prescribed Drugs of Dependence GP Active Learning Module Education Series
Facilitating the sharing of knowledge and relationships in Ararat


Western Victoria PHN 2018 Director Nominations

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At the 2018 Western Victoria PHN Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 25 October 2018, there will be two Elected Director vacancies on our Board, for up to a three year term.

The 2018 Director Nominations are open to eligible Company Members who were Members of the Company before 30 June 2018. For 2018, one of the two vacancies must be filled by a General Medical Practitioner, as the Company’s Constitution mandates a minimum of two General Medical Practitioners to be on the Board.

If you are interested in the Director role and meet the general eligibility to be a Director under the Corporation Act, please complete the Director Nomination Pack and return by 5pm Monday 17 September 2018 to companysecretary@westvicphn.com.au.

If you have any questions regarding the Director vacancy, please contact: Ms Lynne McLennan – Board Chair or Mr Jim Elvey – Deputy Chair.

Director Nomination Pack
Board Director Position Description

Expressions of Interest: GP Media Leads and CPD Advisor

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Western Victoria PHN has launched a Clinical Leadership Fund for primary care providers to contribute to primary care activities and provide advice and clinical leadership as partners in planning PHN activities - both innovation and improvement.

The majority of Western Victoria PHN activities are delivered in partnership with general practices, pharmacy and allied health services working with clinicians and health managers. Western Victoria PHN promotes the value of innovation as an essential part of primary care, and we are seeking to build a culture among Western Victoria PHN providers that encourages innovation.

We cannot deliver on our vision and objectives without understanding what is important to general practitioners and primary care providers and what drives high performing primary care delivery. This is why we need clinician participation and why we are committed to actively partnering with western Victoria primary care providers.

The first positions to be filled under the Fund are as follows. Expressions of interest are sought from across the region.

Putting Prevention into Practice
Working with established networks ‘Active Geelong’, ‘Partners in Prevention’, Central Highlands Prevention Lab (up to 3 hours per week)
Prevention Lead Expression of Interest form

GP Media Lead x 2
Front facing media engagement as a clinician on behalf of Western Victoria PHN (maximum of 1-2 hours per week – ad hoc)
GP Media Lead Expression of Interest form

Expanding CPD advice
Building on existing investment for better targeting of CPD programs and resources (2 hours per month)
CPD Advisor Expression of Interest form

Expressions of Interest close on Thursday 30 August. For further information, please email Rowena Clift or call her on 03 5222 0800.

Bringing specialist care to regional and rural health services

DO NOT EDIT CMYK Western Victoria Primary Health Network

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians everywhere to provide better care to more people, right where they live.

Conceptually Project ECHO is underpinned by an innovative spoke and hub model. ECHO links primary care clinicians, the spokes, with specialists at the hub, through real-time learning made possible by inexpensive videoconferencing technology such as Zoom.

Clinicians are engaged in tele-mentoring, collaborative education and case presentation. ECHO aims to build capacity in underserved areas, from rural counties to minority communities. The ECHO model does not actually “provide” care to patients. Rather, it increases access to specialty-level care in rural and underserved areas by providing front-line clinicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage complex patients.

Primary care clinicians register for ECHO Programs at no cost and connect via videoconferencing on a regularly scheduled basis. ECHO sessions include a lecture from subject matter experts and case based learning. Participants become part of a supportive community of practice connecting providers with each other and a specialist multi-disciplinary team.

ECHO and Western Victoria PHN

ECHO complements the key objectives of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network presenting an opportunity to exponentially expand workforce capacity to treat more patients sooner, using existing resources. At a time when the health care system is under mounting pressure to do more without spending more, this is critical.

The development of an Opioid Management ECHO ‘clinic’ through a partnership with St Vincent's Health, Hume Area Pharmacotherapy Network (HAPN), ORTiCare and Western Victoria PHN has been warmly received by addiction medicine specialists and a variety of primary care providers including general practitioners, alcohol and other drug workers, pain specialists, pharmacists and nurse practitioners.

Participants are encouraged to present de-identified cases, participate in discussions and evaluation surveys. They also receive no cost CPD credits. As everyone provides feedback, people are not only helping solve the case but are also effectively conveying lessons that they’ve gained from treating complicated patients throughout their own practices.

Background to ECHO

Dr Sanjeev Arora, gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Centre founded ECHO in 2009. The program was developed in response to a lack of patient access to treatment of hepatitis C in New Mexico.

ECHO serves as a crucial networking tool giving clinicians and specialists a means to meet and collaborate. As the ECHO model expands world-wide, with a current operating footprint of over 17,200 clinics, it is helping to address some of the healthcare system’s most intractable problems, including inadequate or inequitable access to care, rising costs, systemic inefficiencies, and unequal or slow diffusion of best practices.

If early indicators are anything to go by, ECHO will go a long way to bridging the systemic gaps in access to expert consultation and care in the ever- present metro-rural divide.

How to connect

The sessions run weekly on a Wednesday morning from 7:30 - 8:30am and can be joined from the comfort of your own home or office or at the Western Victoria PHN Geelong Office 131 Myers St (light breakfast provided). ECHO is sustained by case study discussions and participants are encouraged to submit cases for multidisciplinary review.

To learn more, please see the Western Victoria PHN website or contact the following Western Victoria PHN staff:

Oesophagogastric Cancer Optimal Care Pathway – new resources

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Oesophagogastric (OG) cancers have a low incidence and poor prognosis, with five-year survival rates ranging from 20 to 30%. Further details are available in this Fact Sheet.

There is an important role for GPs in delivering preventative health messages on smoking cessation and moderation of alcohol intake; awareness of risk factors and symptoms for earlier diagnosis; correct referral to appropriate specialists; and monitoring and supporting patients through treatment, which is usually palliative rather than curative in intent.

The most common symptoms of OG cancer are:

  • Dysphagia
  • Persistent epigastric
  • Pain/dyspepsia
  • Pain on swallowing
  • Food bolus obstruction
  • Unexplained weight loss or anorexia
  • Haematemesis and/or melena
  • Early satiety
  • Unexplained nausea/bloatedness or anaemia.

In Victoria, all six PHNs are working together to promote the adoption of the OG Optimal Care Pathway into primary health in 2018. This Victorian Government supports this project.

Following the Optimal Care Pathway has the potential to significantly improve the experience for patients by building general practice’s awareness of symptoms, referral pathways, management options and supportive care needs.

Oesophagogastric Cancer resources for your clinic

For more information on dysphagia and gastro-oesophageal cancer see HealthPathways or contact Kirsten Hausknecht, Cancer Lead, Western Victoria PHN.

Update to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and colonoscopy referrals

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From 1 July 2017, all Victorian public hospitals providing colonoscopy services have been funded to provide National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) related colonoscopies. This was previously only available to 19 designated provider health services positioned throughout the state.

To be admitted for a colonoscopy under the NBCSP, a patient must have been referred for the procedure due to a positive faecal occult blood test as a result of participating in the NBCSP. Patients admitted for an NBCSP colonoscopy may elect to be public or private, according to the usual election procedure.

The NBCSP is a Commonwealth Government population health initiative to improve the early detection and prevention of bowel cancer. People eligible to participate in the program receive an invitation through the mail to complete a faecal occult blood test at home, which is sent by mail to a pathology laboratory for analysis. Participants with a positive screening test are required to see their general practitioner and are usually referred for a colonoscopy. By 2020 all eligible people aged 50–74 will be invited to screen every two years.

For more information on NBSCP and colonoscopy referral, see HealthPathways. Resources on the implementation of the NBCSP in Victoria can be obtained from the Victorian Department of Health website

HealthPathways update


New pages:

  • Perinatal mental health support
  • Closed head injury
  • Plastic surgery assessment - Acute, non-acute and advice
  • Advance Care Planning.

Reviewed pages:

  • Hospital admission risk program (HARP)
  • Mastitis and breast abscess
  • Feed and diabetes.

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

Winter Symposium conference footage release

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In June 2018, Western Victoria PHN coordinated the Winter Symposium Conference, a two day event showcasing more than 20 presentations from experts in the field of mental health, alcohol and other drugs treatment.

In case you missed out, footage of the conference is now available via the PHN Learning Hub.

Key highlights include:

  • Changing the way we think about pain by Professor Lorimer Moseley, Clinical and Research Physiotherapist
  • Opportunities for primary care to respond to the rates of depression, anxiety, tobacco and other drug use in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community by Professor Pat Dudgeon.

Further events

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To find out about other health related events in your area, please see the Western Victoria PHN website Events and education page and External organisation events page for details.

Ballarat Goldfields

Springs Medical receives RACGP 2018 Victorian Practice of the Year award

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Congratulations to Springs Medical on receiving the RACGP 2018 Victorian Practice of the Year award!  Springs Medical are therefore shortlisted for the National Award to be announced in October this year.

"The RACGP extends its warmest congratulations to all our state and territory award winners. Each of these practices represents a work ethic and healthcare provision that meets the highest standards and principles of general practice," Dr Tim Koh, Chair of RACGP Council, told newsGP.

“For Springs Medical this is deserved and important recognition for our effort and focus to provide the highest quality of health care. It takes years of dedicated hard work and resources to achieve such a high standard," says Springs Medical Board Chair Dr Gerard Ingham.

Read more

Patient activation training

Patient activation involves people's ability to manage their own health and wellbeing.  This four-hour interactive training session supports clinicians and health care assistants to help their patients living with chronic illness to have better health outcomes, less costly care, and to help clinicians have less stressful, more efficient consultations.

Date: Monday 10 September
Time: 12.30pm - 4.30pm
Venue: Skipton Boardroom

Lunch provided.  Please see this flyer for further information.

Mental Health First Aid course

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This course teaches first aid skills for adult members of the public to give initial help to adults experiencing mental health problems, in a mental health crisis situation, or in early stages of a mental illness.

Date: Wednesday 12 and 19 September
Time: 9am - 4pm
Venue: Peart Wing,103 Lydiard St Sth, Ballarat

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

Geelong Otway

Let's Work Together allied health forum

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On Tuesday 7 August allied health professionals, practice managers and practice nurses from across the Geelong Otway region came together for an evening of networking and information sharing.

Held in the Deakin Cats Community Centre at the GMHBA Stadium, the event was designed to provide health professionals with an overview of a number of PHN initiatives which can support them in their practice, as well as an introduction to service provided at our region’s major health providers.

Attendees included a broad range of allied health providers including physiotherapists, dietitians, psychologists, and mental health workers, as well as practice nurses, practice managers and GPs.

The evening began with CEO, Leanne Beagley, delivering an overview of Western Victoria PHN’s key priorities and objectives, and a strategic view of how we are addressing some of the health issues in our region. This was followed by a series of short presentations from a number of PHN programs including HealthPathways, My Health Record, Continuing Professional Development, and the PHN Learning Hub.

Presentations from Barwon Health, St John of God, Epworth Geelong, Colac Area Health, Bellarine Community Health and Lorne Community Hospital also gave attendees an insight into some of the programs and services that are available in our region.

A highlight of the night was the health services expo where representatives from local health services displayed resource information and were on hand to answer questions.

Attendees provided feedback and noted the networking benefits:

  • 'Opportunity to put names to faces'
  • 'Facilitating, networking and team working'
  • 'Building and maintaining relationships'
  • 'Good to get an overview of the diverse range of health services in the region'
  • 'Great insight to PHN programs'.

Perinatal morbidity and mortality lecture


Barwon Health invites you to a Perinatal morbidity and mortality lecture where Jennifer D'Arcy and Linda Barber will talk on neonatal death, Jodie Loth will speak on FDIU and Nicole Milenkovski will present on the prevalence of PTSD in the VBAC clinic.

Date: Thursday 30 August
Time: 6pm - 7pm
Venue: John Lindell Lecture Theatre, Level 4, University Hospital Geelong

For further information, please see this flyer.

Diabetes update for health professionals

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Diabetes Victoria invite you to an interactive program they believe will

  • Help your understanding of the key aspects of type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes and how they are managed
  • Allow you to better support your clients with more complex diabetes management issues.

Date: Tuesday 11 September and Wednesday 12 September 2018
Time: 9am - 4.30pm
Venue: Diabetes Victoria, 75 Roslyn Rd, Belmont

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

Great South Coast

Improving accessibility to doctors for secondary students in Camperdown

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Pictured back row (from left to right): Dr Leanne Beagley (CEO, Western Victoria PHN), Cherie Kilpatrick (Principal, Camperdown College), Abby Hawken (Practice Manager, Terang Medical Clinic), Mel Somerville (Practice Nurse, Doctors in Secondary Schools, Camperdown College and Terang Medical Clinic) and Kathryn Robertson (Doctors in Secondary Schools Project Coordinator and Student and Wellbeing Officer, Camperdown College).

Pictured front row (from left to right): Ethan Coates (Year 12 student, Camperdown College), Lauren McIvee (Year 12 student, Camperdown College) and Dr Jacqueline Altree (GP, Doctors in Secondary Schools, Camperdown College).

Secondary students from Camperdown College will have the opportunity to receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time as a GP and nurse begin working in the school this term.

The Victorian Government has partnered with Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) in the delivery of its $43.8 million Doctors in Secondary Schools pilot program to make sure young people receive the health support, advice and treatment they need to reach their full potential.

"We know young people have some of the lowest GP attendance rates, meaning many are missing out on vital healthcare support. Students at Camperdown College will be able to see a GP on-site and get on top of health problems early, including mental health issues,” said Minister for Education, James Merlino.

“Western Victoria PHN has recruited and engaged a GP and nurse to work at Camperdown College, where all students will be able to access the GP, subject to providing the requisite consent for the services,” said Western Victoria PHN’s CEO, Dr Leanne Beagley.

“Camperdown College, its students and their parents, guardians or carers will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses for consultations with the GP,” said Dr Beagley.

A doctor and nurse will attend the school one day each week to help young people identify health problems early and reduce pressure on working parents.

“Terang Medical Clinic is excited to be part of this innovative program and looks forward to working with Camperdown College to bring the service to students,” said Terang Medical Clinic Practice Manager, Abby Hawken.

More schools in the western Victoria district will come on board throughout the remainder of 2018.

Clinical Placement Program in Cancer Survivorship

Four logos 22 August 2018

Primary care professionals (PCPs) including GPs, practice nurses and community-based allied health professionals are invited to apply for a free clinical placement opportunity at oncology specialist clinics across Victoria to improve their skills and knowledge in cancer survivorship care.  Benefits include:

  • Improved communication between hospital and primary care sectors
  • Improved knowledge and confidence for PCPs caring for cancer survivors
  • Opportunity to enhance clinical relationships
  • Opportunity to collaborate on shared care models
  • Improved patient care outcomes.

To find out more, please see this flyer

Wimmera Grampians

Get in quick! MBS & Chronic Disease Care Planning Workshop Stawell

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Kim Poyner, an expert in this field who has implemented a framework into general practice that has seen care planning revenue increase tenfold, will present this workshop.

Kim is a practice nurse and founder of MediCoach. MediCoach is a training enterprise dedicated to helping health care teams provide better health outcomes through effective care planning. Kim is a certified Health and Wellness Coach, a consulting Health and Wellness Coach and draws on eleven years as Team Coordinator at a large medical centre.

Date: Monday 13 September
Time: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Venue: Stawell Health & Community Centre, 8-22 Patrick St, Stawell

To find out more and to register, please see this flyer.

Prescribed Drugs of Dependence GP Active Learning Module Education Series

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Session 1 of this series was held in Horsham on Monday 30 July and was well supported with 22 GPs from the region in attendance. Our speakers on the night included Dr Jim Sharples, solo GP, Anaesthetics and Obstetrics with special interest in pain management and palliative care and Visiting Medical Officer at Maryborough District Health Service. We also heard from local speakers Carlie Streeter, Pharmacist and Pauline Mann-Stringer from Grampians Community Health.

The event aims to assist GPs in identifying and managing patients with problematic use of prescribed drugs of dependence and to improve the quality and safety of prescribing of drugs of dependence in general practice.

Session 2 will be held on Monday 27 August 2018.

Facilitating the sharing of knowledge and relationships in Ararat

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Hospital and primary care health professionals came together for a one-day intensive GP Emergency Skills Workshop in Ararat on Saturday 4 August.

The workshop taught or refreshed common emergency skills for general practitioners and/or junior medical staff working in rural emergency departments or urgent care centres.

Participants rotated through four stations to cover a wide range of procedural and resuscitation skills including suturing, plastering, managing burns, CPR and eye emergencies.

The workshop also provided an opportunity for GPs to build face-to-face relationships with emergency department staff whom they often seek advice from over the phone.

Emergency physicians, emergency nursing educators and plaster technicians facilitated the workshop.

This program was made possible through a partnership between Western Victoria PHN and funding from the Australian College for Emergency Medicine that supports the Emergency Medicine Education Training (EMET) program run by the Ballarat Health Services Emergency Department.