Leanne 2019 westvic news

After Hours Initiatives Assist Healthcare Delivery 

Western Victoria PHN is delivering in excess of $550,000 for innovative after hours initiatives to assist primary healthcare service delivery and improve health outcomes across western Victoria.

Over last year’s busy Christmas period we began with an after hours campaign for the community ‘Make the right call to get the right care’, which involved three steps for residents and visitors to western Victoria to access after-hours medical assistance.

We are now working in collaboration with health services across western Victoria to deliver the after hours initiatives, which includes the After Hours Telehealth Pilots, After Hours Sub- Regional Engagement Projects and After Hours Collaborative Innovation Grants.

Last week, I was pleased to visit Maryborough District Health Service to officially launch its After Hours Telehealth Pilot. The pilot, funded by Western Victoria PHN, is being delivered by My Emergency Dr (MED) via its video-call based service.

During the after hours period, Urgent Care Centre medical staff can access the MED App on a smart phone or tablet to immediately access a team of Emergency Specialists who can remotely access, diagnose and arrange treatment for patients. 

The use of telehealth has been identified as a potential alternative to addressing some of the workforce challenges that commonly impact small rural communities and can reduce the significant after hours burden placed on some GPs. 

The After Hours Telehealth Pilot will be rolled out across nine Urgent Care Centres in western Victoria, each of which expressed an interest in participating in the pilot.

Maryborough District Health Service was one of three health services to launch the pilot this month. Please see the list of health services participating below.   

Wave 1

Service Delivery- 05/08/2019- 31/07/2020

Wave 2

Service Delivery- 02/09/2019- 28/08/2020

Wave 3

Service Delivery- 30/09/2019- 25/09/2020

Maryborough District Health Service

Terang and Mortlake Health Service

Ballan District Health and Care

Rural Northwest Health

Hepburn Health Service  

East Grampians Health Service

Stawell Regional Hospital

Great Ocean Road Health (Lorne)

Great Ocean Road Health (Apollo Bay)

In late 2019-2020, collaborative models for after hours primary healthcare will be co-designed with a broad range of after hours stakeholders including primary care providers, after hours service providers, tertiary care providers, aged care providers, rural and regional Department of Health and Human Services branches, alcohol and other drug and mental health providers, service users and community based service providers in each of the fours sub-regions of Western Victoria PHN.

Through the facilitation process, the ‘Sub-regional Co-design: collaborative models for after hours primary health care’ will ensure after hours primary care funding is directed to meet local needs identified by stakeholders within their communities and inform the broader planned procurement approach for Sub-regional Co-design Projects.

Opportunities to be involved in the Sub-regional Co-design will be promoted later this year.   

Dr Leanne Beagley
Chief Executive Officer 


Head and Neck Cancer Information for GPs

Cancer Screening in the Spotlight in Latest Issue of Public Health Research & Practice

National Mental Health Commission Online Survey

Supporting Communities During Drought – Free Online Resources

National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) Public Consultation Process

Western Alliance Sixth Annual Symposium - Call for Abstracts & Registrations Open

Nurse Awards 2019

HealthPathways Update 

Ballarat Goldfields 

After Hours Telehealth Pilot launches at Maryborough District Health Services

Presentation: The Role of the Health Professional in Child Protection 

Geelong Otway

Practice Manager Networking Breakfast

Young Adults Transition Service

Great South Coast

Western Alliance Ageing Research Forum 

Advanced Care Planning Update 2019 

Wimmera Grampians

Free Farmer Health Checks and Education Session


Head and Neck Cancer Information for GPs

Head and neck cancers are within the top 10 cancers most commonly diagnosed in Australia, and there are no standard screening tests for early detection.

Major risk factors for head and neck cancers include tobacco use, alcohol consumption and HPV infection, which causes more than half of all oropharyngeal cancers.  Head and neck cancers are also more common in men, affecting almost three times as many men than women.

Advances in surgical techniques, radiation and chemotherapy are helping patients live longer and preserving quality of life, and it is important to remember that head and neck cancers are curable if caught early enough. The five-year survival rate for head and neck cancers currently sits at 70 per cent.

There is an important role for GPs in the provision of health promotion messages on smoking, alcohol and the link to HPV. Patients have high supportive care needs, especially for nutrition support, and many undergo extensive reconstruction work that can be spread out over many years. 

GPs can help to put supports and referrals in place that help patients navigate the complex health system.

Western Victoria PHN is working alongside Primary Health Networks across Victoria to build awareness and use of the head and neck cancer Optimal Care Pathways (OCP).  OCPs are national guidelines that outline the best possible cancer care at each stage from diagnosis to survivorship or end-of-life-care.

Learn more about Optimal Care Pathways here

Cancer Screening in the Spotlight in Latest Issue of Public Health Research & Practice


Cancer screening in Australia is the focus of the latest issue of the Public Health Research & Practice (PHRP), a journal of the Sax Institute, which was supported by and developed in partnership with Cancer Council Australia and Cancer Institute NSW. Articles explore a range of topics on this theme, from ways to increase participation in the bowel screening program to new approaches and technologies to improve breast screening.

The research article is the first comprehensive review of the benefits, harms and cost-effectiveness of cancer screening in Australia, using quantitative evidence and the most recent estimates.

It finds that the national cervical and bowel screening programs are both effective and cost effective, with bowel cancer screening proving exceptionally good value for money. Further work is needed on the benefits and harms (such as overdiagnosis and overtreatment) of Australia’s BreastScreen program, as well as other emerging screening approaches.

Read more about the PHRP here

You can subscribe to receive quarterly e-alerts when the journal is published, make suggestions about themes or topics for future issues, submit papers and follow on Twitter @phrpjournal

National Mental Health Commission Online Survey


The National Mental Health Commission has launched an online survey as part of the Connections project, calling on all Australians to contribute to the future of mental health care, suicide prevention and wellbeing in our country.

Everyone is welcome to take part in the conversation and you are encouraged to share the survey link with family and friends. The survey consists of six questions and will only take a few minutes to complete depending on how much information you would like to provide.

If you did not have a chance to attend the Town Hall meetings, and/or if there is anything else you would like to contribute in addition to the meetings, please share via the survey here.

Your input will assist in developing a 2030 Vision for mental health, suicide prevention and wellbeing in Australia, as well as inform the priorities of the Commission for the next two years.

Supporting Communities During Drought – Free Online Resources

As part of its remit to support children’s mental health, The Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health (NWCCMH) has developed a new suite of free, online drought-specific resources to support GPs, health and social service providers, educators, first responders and community leaders as they engage with children and their families.

Please find attached the first of the NWCCMH’s Supporting Communities in Drought: Online Resource summaries which provides an overview of and links to videos, podcasts, printable fact sheets and workshops that are all free to access. Future summaries will showcase additional resources for engaging with children and families affected by drought, and will be available in the coming months.

Further fact sheets, videos, podcasts, e-learning courses and workshops on children’s mental health are available for free online at the Emerging Minds web hub, or you can contact Senior Workforce Consultant (Rural and Remote), Annabel Axford at axforda@emergingminds.com.au.

National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) Public Consultation Process


The NDSS provides subsidised syringes and needles, blood glucose test strips, urine test strips, insulin pump consumables and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products to Australians living with diabetes.

To ensure the scheme continues to meet the needs of the community, the Commonwealth Department of Health is running an online survey to inform future decision-making; including products that should be considered for subsidisation.

To have your say, please head to the NDSS online survey link. The survey closes on 25 August 2019.

For further information contact Claire Rickard, Primary Care Engagement Coordinator at Diabetes Victoria, via: crickard@diabetesvic.org.au

Western Alliance Sixth Annual Symposium - Call for Abstracts & Registrations Open

Western Alliance's Sixth Annual Symposium is scheduled for Thursday 24 October at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre and is now taking registrations and calling for abstract submissions. 

This year's theme is ‘lost in research translation, demystifying the approach from knowledge into action’. Submitted abstracts should identify with this theme and also align with the Western Alliance focus areas. 

Click here to submit your abstract. Abstract submissions close at midnight on 8 September 2019.

The Symposium is free and will focus on research translation, and in addition to showcasing our regional research through presentations, we will also be attempting to tackle the big issues through practical workshops and panel discussions. Limited places. Register here.

Nurse Awards 2019

2019 marks the fourth triennial awards for Cancer Council Victoria’s Nurse Cervical Screening Providers in Victoria! This year, Cancer Council Victoria will be giving awards in four categories, all of which are open for nomination. The categories are:

  • Commitment to under-screened groups
  • Excellence in preceptorship
  • Service improvement and innovation
  • Nurse of the year

The awards will be presented at the Nurse Metropolitan Professional Development Day which will be held at the Jam Factory in South Yarra on Friday, 22 November 2019.

Nominations close on Monday 30 August 2019 at 5pm.

For more information and to make a nomination, please visit our website or fill out the nomination form here.

  HealthPathways Update


New Pages:

  • Subcutaneous Foreign Bodies
  • Trigger Finger in Adults
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dupuytren’s Contracture
  • Rural and Agricultural Health Assessment
  • Chemical Exposure and Toxicity
  • Animal Related Injury and Illness
  • Zoonoses
  • Spider Bite
  • Leg Ulcers
  • Pressure Injuries
  • Infection and Bacterial Load in Wounds
  • MRSA
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Reviewed Pages:

  • Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD)
  • Issuing a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD)
  • Medications for Depression and Anxiety (Pregnancy and Breastfeeding)
  • Child with a Limp
  • MRI – Knee and Hip
  • MRI – Shoulder
  • MRI – Back Pain
  • Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis
  • Sick Day Management in Diabetes Type 1 and Type 2

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

Ballarat Goldfields

After Hours Telehealth Pilot launches at Maryborough District Health Service

Specialist emergency doctors will now be available at Maryborough District Health Service during the after hours period, thanks to a new telehealth pilot being delivered by Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) and My Emergency Dr.

The new After Hours Telehealth Pilot will be launched across several Health Service Urgent Care Centre’s (UCC) in the Western Victoria PHN region, with Hepburn Health Service and Ballan District Health and Care to commence services in September.

The pilot at Maryborough District Health Services’ UCC will commence on Monday 12 August 2019 and run until 7 August 2020.The video-call based service will be used by Urgent Care Centre staff in the after hours period via the MED App on a smart phone or tablet, which gives immediate access to a team of Emergency Specialists who can remotely access, diagnose and arrange treatment for patients. 

Western Victoria PHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Leanne Beagley, said the use of telehealth has been identified as a potential alternative to addressing some of the workforce challenges and can reduce the significant after hours burden placed on some GPs. 

Read the full media release here or read the article in the Maryborough District Advertiser

Photo: (L-R) Amor Kisling, Wendy Giddings, Western Victoria PHN CEO Dr Leanne Beagley, My Emergency Dr COO Dawn Floyd and MDHS Acting CEO Laura Martin.

Presentation: The Role of the Health Professional in Child Protection 

Professor Anne Smith visited Ballarat on Tuesday 6 August to present two sessions on 'The Role of the Health Professional in Child Protection' and 'The Shaken Infant: the who what when why and how?' for primary health professionals in the Ballarat Goldfields region. 

There were 40 health professionals in the first session and 60 in the second session, with approximately 50 per cent of participants attending both sessions.

Attendees included GP’s, practice nurses, under graduate nurses from acute and mental health streams, psychiatrists, medical students, nursing educators and registered nurses from the emergency department and children’s ward. 

Feedback following the event was positive and it was a great opportunity to collaborate with Ballarat Health Services to discuss a topic that is of significant importance to health care, but obviously very confronting.

Geelong Otway

Practice Manager Networking Breakfast 

Are you a Practice Manager in the Geelong Otway region looking for the opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas with other practice managers?

Come and join the Practice Manager Networking Breakfast on Monday 4 September from 8.00 - 9.00am at Winter's Cafe and enjoy an informal networking session over a cuppa and breakfast. 

This event attracts 2 CPD points for AAPM members. 

Registration is essential by Monday 2 September. Book via the link here

Young Adults Transition Service

The Young Adults Transition Service (YATS) is a specialist service based at the McKellar Centre that develops the health independence of young people as they negotiate the move away from their childhood providers into the adult health world.

The service consists of a Rehabilitation Physician, OT, SP, PT, NP and social worker.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Aged 16-25 years
  • Barwon South West Region
  • Complex Neurological and or physical condition
  • Need a coordinated approach to health transition

Exclusion criteria: clients who have a sole diagnosis of mental health or intellectual disability

To refer to the Young Adults Transition Service, please forward a Medical Specialist/GP referral to: Dr Neil Crompton - Young Adults Transition Service – McKellar Centre. Email: McKellar.SACS.Referral@barwonhealth.org.au

Telephone enquiries: 4215 5315

Great South Coast

Western Alliance Ageing Research Forum 

In collaboration with the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) and the Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC), Western Alliance has opened registrations for its Ageing Research Forum, which will take place on Friday 6 September 2019 at South West Healthcare in Warrnambool.

The forum aims to:

  • Launch the Western Alliance Ageing Research Hub; a collaboration of health professionals, researchers, consumers and industry experts who will help to set the agenda for ageing research in Western Victoria
  • Bring ourselves up to date on current developments and evidence in the ageing space
  • Identify the key issues and gaps in ageing across the Western region of Victoria, and
  • Identify the key research questions that can be further developed and funded to improve health outcomes.

The forum will involve a mix of presentations and workshops in an interactive format, with a keynote address from Associate Professor Briony Dow, Director of NARI.

The event will be free and lunch will be provided. Limited places. Register here by 27 August 2019

Advanced Care Planning Update 2019 

South West Healthcare Palliative Care Director, Dr Emma Greenwood, and Advance Care Planning Officer/Registered Nurse, Melissa Couch, will present an Advance Care Planning Update for 2019 on Thursday 22 August at the Western Victoria PHN Warrnambool office.

The update will include the impact and relevance of new Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation and implication to practice for GP clinics and is open to General Practitioners/GP Registrars, Practice Nurses/ Nurse Practitioners, Practice Managers / Practice Staff, Allied Health Professionals, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Palliative Care Staff.

Advance Care Planning is a process of planning for future health and personal care, whereby the person's values and preferences are made known so that they can guide decision making at a future time when the person cannot make or communicate their decisions. 

For further information and to register, please visit the Western Victoria PHN website

Wimmera Grampians

Free Farmer Health Checks and Education Session

Western Victoria PHN welcomed the National Centre for Farmer Health to the Horsham office on Thursday 1 August to provide comprehensive health checks for local farmers and anyone working in the agricultural sector as part of its AgriSafe Program.

Find out more on the ArigSafe program here.

This followed on from a successful educational session on Wednesday 31 July for health professionals on ‘Improving the Health of Agricultural Communities’.

Patient information about Farmers Health is available on the Western Victoria PHN GoShare platform for practices to access and give to patients. The first Rural Health chapter in Australia has also been developed by the Western Victoria PHN and is now available on HealthPathways.