Medication Dependence Prevention Month is an annual event in May to raise awareness about preventing medication harms and finding community support. At the moment, more Australians are dying due to the use of some pain and sedative medications than on our roads.
This is a health crisis we have the power to prevent.
Last October, Western Victoria PHN was the pilot site for SafeScript, the Victorian Government’s real time prescription monitoring program. This month the program was rolled out across the rest of the state.
In its first two months, SafeScript alerted doctors and pharmacists in western Victoria to almost 3,300 patients at risk of harm or overdose from visiting multiple clinics or pharmacies. More than 400 sites across the Western Victoria PHN region were part of SafeScript’s inaugural rollout.
The SafeScript program has proven to be very effective in starting conversations between doctors and their patients about high-risk medications and other possible treatments to address a range of symptoms for difficult conditions such as pain management.
We recently launched a series of consumer flyers on high-risk medications outlining possible questions patients can ask their doctors. Copies of these flyers are available for download and can be displayed in practices. Go to: https://www.westvicphn.com.au/community/safescript-community-information
All the face-to-face SafeScript training sessions for health practitioners in western Victoria were completed last year, but we will be holding four live-stream training sessions during May and June. Further details will be in the next edition of Westvic News
For more information on Prevention Month go to: www.scriptwise.org.au/prevention-month
For more information on SafeScript go to: https://vtphna.org.au/safescript-training-hub/
Dr Leanne Beagley
Chief Executive Officer
Great South Coast
The National Immunisation Program has released a list of seasonal influenza vaccine resources for vaccination providers. Meanwhile, the Australian Immunisation Handbook has been updated to improve access to information in the handbook.
The Department of Health has updated the immunisation section of its website with the following education and communication resources for vaccination providers:
- 2019 seasonal influenza vaccines – clinical advice for vaccination providers (fact sheet)
- 2019 National Immunisation Program (NIP) influenza vaccines (fact sheet for providers)
- Check age before giving the flu shot (safety sticker for vaccine refrigerators)
- ATAGI statement on 2019 seasonal influenza vaccines
- The flu vaccine – poster for general setting
- The flu vaccine – poster for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander setting
The following consumer resources have also been released:
- The flu vaccine – fact sheet for consumers
- The flu vaccine – fact sheet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Hardcopy materials, accompanied by correspondence from the Chief Medical Officer, have been mailed to vaccination providers including GPs, Aboriginal Medical Services, and other providers in each state and territory. Additional copies of the resources can be ordered through the Department’s website.
Also, the following enhancements have been made to the Australian Immunisation Handbook
- An improved printing function, especially for the tables, with the correct ‘date printed’
- An improved search function
- The ‘Back to Top’ function is now operational
- The ‘Summary’ on the disease chapters being renamed as ‘Overview’
- Links to product information and consumer medicine information sheets now being available on each vaccine page
The Pharmacotherapy Area-based Networks are reminding medical practitioners that they may prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone for up to five patients without needing to complete Medication Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence (MATOD) training. This also covers nurse practitioners with a notation for a category in which the prescribing of buprenorphine/naloxone is authorised.
However, all prescribers are still required to obtain a permit before prescribing this medication. Visit the health.vic website for more details. Further details on pharmacotherapy are also available.
SafeScript is also available to help identify patients who have a pharmaceutical drug dependence of which their prescriber was previously unaware. MATOD may be an appropriate treatment option for these patients. If this type of therapy is unfamiliar to you, the Pharmacotherapy Area Based Networks can help.
The Pharmacotherapy Area-Based Networks (PABNs) are a Victorian Government initiative which support health professionals across the state to prevent, identify and manage opioid dependence and maximise safe prescribing. The PABNs offer a wide range of supports including:
- Access to Addiction Medicine Specialists.
- Clinical networks and peer based mentoring.
- Professional development events and accredited training.
- Whole-of-practice staff training.
- e-Newsletters and communications delivering important updates.
- Expert advice regarding best practice and up-to-date medical findings.
- Support for health professionals to navigate the pharmacotherapy system (e.g. permits, MBS items, referral pathways).
For more information on PABN's, head to their website: www.pabn.org.au
Cancer Council Victoria is seeking expressions of interest from practice nurses/general practices to undertake a quality improvement activity to improve cancer screening participation in people with disabilities.
This would involve piloting a Quality Improvement activity in the GP practice or community health service, focusing on areas of data collection, tailoring of invitation, recall and reminder messages and inclusion of a patient’s disability status in referral forms for assessment. It could also involve assessing the physical accessibility of each practice.
This is part of a broader project, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, Cancer Council Victoria and BreastScreen Victoria, to be completed by October 2019. Cancer Council Victoria will support the process by providing guidance and recommendations on cancer screening best-practice in people with disabilities
To apply or for more information, contact Sophie Thompson at Cancer Council Victoria via firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 9514 6515.
The Rural Workforce Agency Victoria advises that applications are now open for the Health Workforce Scholarship Program 2018-19.
The program provides scholarships and bursaries to help health professionals in remote and rural Australia retain and enhance their skills, capacity and scope of practice. It is available to eligible medical, nursing and allied health professionals working in primary health care who are not employed by a relevant State Government and located in, or providing services to, areas categorised as MM 3-7 under the Modified Monash Model (MMM) Model.
Applications close at 5pm, Friday 26 April.
Go to the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria website for more details.
The National Cancer Screening Register has issued an update on the expansion of the register to include the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
The Register is a national electronic infrastructure for the collection, storage and reporting of data for the National Cervical Screening Program. From November 2019, the Register will begin supporting the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, creating one record per participant for the two programs. From 2020, the Register will also feature integration with practice management software and online participant and healthcare provider portals.
For more information on the project and the next steps, visit the National Cancer Screening Register website.
The Department of Health and Human Services is reporting a strong uptake of its program to provide subsidised access to the RACGP's online emergency response planning tool (ERPT) but is encouraging more practices to make the most of the opportunity.
Rural and regional general practices in Victoria have had free access to the ERPT since mid January. To date, almost one third of allocated spaces have been taken and activated as part of a pilot program. However, the success of the pilot is dependent on attracting higher rates of participation and practices which are yet to sign up are urged to not miss out,
The tool also includes a cyber security module aligned to the RACGP guideline, Information security in general practice.
- Click here to register (to set up your practice on the editing platform, the fee is advised at the top but this will not be charged to your practice, you don’t get locked in if funding discontinues)
- Click here to book an online training session (Please check the time zone before selecting a session time)
- Incidental Findings on Imaging
- Immunisation - Childhood
To stay up to date on recent, locally agreed guidelines see HealthPathways.
A reminder to book for the upcoming Women's Health Update in Ballarat with early bird prices for the two-night event ending soon.
Ballarat Health Services in conjunction with Western Victoria PHN is hosting the event on Tuesday, 18 June and Tuesday, 25 June covering the topic of Women's Health Active Learning Module.
Early bird tickets costing $80 per person for both days will end on Tuesday, 30 April. The cost to attend for both nights will then increase to $110. A single night ticket costs $60 per person.
For more information and registration details, go to our Events page.
The Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute is inviting medical professionals to attend a special lecture from internationally renowned Paediatric Oncology Researcher and Visiting John Turner Professor, Professor Jaroslav Sterba, from Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.
The lecture will be held at St John Of God Hospital Ballarat on Wednesday, 1 May 2019 from 6pm.
Download the flyer for more details.
Choosing Wisely Australia has created a new '5 Questions' card for distribution to patients interested in better managing their health.
Choosing Wisely is an initiative of NPS MedicineWise and is supported by Better Care Victoria to help the healthcare community and patients start important conversations on eliminating the use of unnecessary and sometimes harmful tests, treatments, and procedures. The '5 Questions' cards have been developed to aid collaborative patient focused decision making.
If you are interested in obtaining copies of the card for your patients, contact Hannah.Ryan-West@bhs.org.au.
Western Victoria PHN and Barwon Health have appointed Adam Muir as our new Indigenous Project Officer for the Geelong Otway region.
Adam has 20 years' experience in providing adminstrative support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities including working with Deakin University, the City of Greater Geelong and Barwon Health.
In his new role, Adam will support both Western Victoria PHN and Barwon Health in our work with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
The Birregurra Presentations of Interest Series will next month host a presentation from Palliative Medicine specialist Professor Jennifer Philip.
Professor Philip is Chair, Palliative Medicine, Centre for Cancer Research, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne; St Vincent's Hospital. She will discuss insights into current understanding and practice in palliative care.
The event will be held on Thursday, 16 May at Christ Church Anglican Church in Birregurra.
For more details, download the flyer.
Great South Coast
A reminder that Palliative Care Physcian Dr Greg Mewett will be in Warrnambool next month to discuss the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act (2017) which will take effect in Victoria from 19 June 2019.
Dr Mewett is a member of the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Implementation Taskforce appointed by Victoria's Minister for Health and Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the introduction of the VAD legislation in Victoria.
He will be in Warrnambool on Tuesday, 21 May to discuss the major features of the legislation and its likely implications for GPs in their day to day work.
The presentation will also be available as a webinar.
For more information, go to our Events page.
Local health professionals are invited to hear from neurosurgeon Mr Paul Smith at a special presentation in Horsham next week.
Mr Smith provides brain and spine surgical services in Melbourne, rural Victoria and southern New South Wales. His presentation, titled Neurological Potpourri, will include:
- An approach to common spinal neurosurgical presentations and
- An appreciation of the cranial neurosurgical journey for patients.
The presentation will be held on Thursday, 2 May. For more details, go to our Events page.