Newsletters

Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) produces a fortnightly newsletter, Westvic News, that is distributed by email and published on the website.

For information about submissions, please see our Editorial Policy and Guideline.

Westvic News header

Western Victoria Primary Health Network produces a bi-monthly newsletter which is designed to be distributed to general practice and allied health provider waiting rooms. Content for consumers is included in each edition.

Copies of Health & Wellbeing Newsletter, formerly Doctor's Voice, are emailed to practices in Microsoft Word format. Individual practices may wish to adapt the Word version to include additional information specific to their practice, or add their practice details/logo to the newsletter.

To ensure credibility and reduce risk, practices are asked not to alter any of the content provided. The source of content is always noted.

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Leanne 2019 westvic news

Quality primary health care for our communities

With the 2019 Federal election only one and a half weeks away, I thought I would share with you some of the key messages from Western Victoria PHN about issues in the primary health care area for priority consideration.

All Australians are entitled to a secure, effective, accessible, equitable and affordable healthcare system focused on quality outcomes.

This is especially critical for those whose needs are currently not well supported, such as First Nations peoples, people living in rural and remote Australia, people on low incomes and people with chronic disease and mental illness.

Western Victoria PHN strongly supports general practice as the cornerstone of primary health care in our communities, and GPs are at the centre of the system.

The Commonwealth Government plays a critical role in supporting the healthcare sector and we call on all parties to commit to equity in health services, improved access to care and sustainable funding.

To read our key messages click HERE

Dr Leanne Beagley
Chief Executive Officer 

General 

Medical Professional Development Grants Changes

Self-Collection Project: Statewide Cervical Screening Provider Survey

Early bird registrations open for Australian College of Nurse Practitioners National Conference

Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer

Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care Practitioners Workshop

HealthPathways Update

Ballarat Goldfields 

National Interoperability Consultation - Ballarat Workshop

City of Ballarat’s immunisation service changes

Geelong Otway

Barwon Health Primary Health Partners Clinic Referrals

Early Childhood Early Intervention Services

Great South Coast

Emergency Medicine without Medicines or Equipment: Teaching on the run for nurses, doctors, and allied health

Wimmera Grampians

National Interoperability Consultation - Horsham Workshop

General 

Medical Professional Development Grants Changes

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The Rural Workforce Agency Victoria has announced changes to it Medical Professional Development grants to broaden opportunities for doctors to apply.

The grants are funded by the State Government to support continuing professional development for medical practitioners, registrars ( practising in rural communities MM2-7) and interns (who are required to complete a minimum of 13 weeks in Victorian rural community placement).

Under the changes, recipients can now claim:

  • $3,000 per financial year
  • Course/study undertaken within the financial year NOT within 60 days of claiming as per previous guidelines
  • 100 per cent registration fee up to annual limit
  • Full cost of cheapest economy airfare
  • Up to $140 per night accommodation
  • $0.66 per km based on return trip
  • Up to $60 per day for childcare.

For more information, visit the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria website.

Self-Collection Project: Statewide Cervical Screening Provider Survey

Cancer Council Victoria has established the ‘Self-Collection Project’ to support the introduction of self-collected Cervical Screening Tests as a pathway for under-screened women in Victoria.

Cervical screening providers are now being asked to participate in a survey about current knowledge, skills and confidence to offer self-collected Cervical Screening Tests to eligible women.

Self-collected Cervical Screening Tests are available to women who: 

  • are aged 30 or over; and
  • are either overdue for a Cervical Screening Test by at least two years (4 years since last Pap test), or have never been screened; and 
  • have declined a Cervical Screening Test from a health professional. 

To access the online survey, please click here

Early bird registrations open for Australian College of Nurse Practitioners National Conference

Early bird registrations are now open for the 2019 Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) National Conference to be held in Melbourne from the 2-5 September.

The theme for the four-day conference is ‘Transforming Health Care’, which recognises the dimensions of practice and contribution made by Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practice Nurses across Australia. Themes to be explored are:

  • Rural & Remote Health;
  • Primary Health Care;
  • Private Practice; and
  • Speciality Practice, including Mental Health and Emergency. 

Early bird prices for the full conference are Member/$940.50 and Non-Member/$1210. Early bird registrations closes on 30 June 2019.

Individual day tickets can also be purchased. Prices are Member/$484 and Non-Member/$539. 

For further information and to register, please visit the ACNP website.

Optimal Care Pathways for Cancer

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Western Victoria PHN is joining with other Primary Health Networks in Victoria and Tasmania this year to increase the use of Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs) for cancer.

OCPs are national guidelines which outline the best possible cancer care for specific tumour types. This year the focus is on melanoma, head and neck cancers and pancreatic cancer. The OCPs outline key stages in a patient’s cancer journey, from diagnosis to survivorship or end-of-life-care. They also detail the expected optimal care at each stage to ensure everyone diagnosed with cancer gets the best care possible, regardless of where they live or where they get cancer treatment.

Western Victoria PHN will be working to increase awareness of OCPs throughout 2019, including education and training opportunities around the pathways and providing general practitioners with a suite of melanoma HealthPathways.

If you would like more information on OCPs in western Victoria, contact our Optimal Care Pathways Project Officer Tanya Hahne email tanya.hahne@westvicphn.com.au or phone 03 4310 5106.

For more information on the Optimal Care Pathways, visit the Victorian and Tasmanian PHN Alliance website: https://vtphna.org.au/optimal-care-pathways/

Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care Practitioners Workshop

Join the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) and The University of Melbourne for a free half-day workshop on Saturday, 25 May 2019 on cancer survivorship for general practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals.

With over one million people living with or beyond their cancer diagnosis, cancer survivorship care is a priority in the community.

This collaborative, interactive session will enable discussion with like-minded professionals from a range of disciplines keen to deliver best-practice care for cancer patients during and after treatment. The workshop will provide an overview of cancer survivorship, an understanding of the shared care model as well as tools and resources for supporting patients with cancer in the community.

The workshop will run from 9am-2pm at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Level 13 meeting room, 305 Grattan Street, Parkville. 

Bookings are essential by 23 May. Register HERE.

  HealthPathways Update

HealthPathways

New pages:

  • Incidental Findings on Imaging

Reviewed pages:

  • Rural Community Support during Adversity

  • Asthma in Children

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

Ballarat Goldfields

National Interoperability Consultation - Ballarat Workshop

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As part of the national interoperability consultation – Better connections: Your health, Your say – Western Victoria Primary Health Network is hosting a workshop to hear your perspectives on the future of digital health in Australia and how it can best support delivery of modern person-centred health services and empower personal wellbeing.

The Interoperability Program is a priority of the strategy, which was approved in 2017 by all states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council.

Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy describes interoperability as: At its simplest, the ability to move information easily between people, organisations and systems. It is imperative that when information is shared between people and systems, its meaning is preserved from one context to another so that information is interpreted in the same way.

The Ballarat Workshop on Tuesday, 28 May is open to both clinicians and the community to discuss:

  • What are Australia’s digital health aspirations? How can health learn from innovation in other industries?
  • Priority areas – what are the problems we are seeking to solve by making information more accessible? What’s important to you?
  • What does it mean for consumers to be in control of their own information?
  • What features would be important to maintain trust in systems that share people’s information between providers?
  • How do we ensure that no one is left behind, while at the same time allowing early adopters to exercise greater control?

For more information including details to RSVP, view the event flyer.

If you are unable to attend the workshop, you can have your say via the online survey.

City of Ballarat’s immunisation service changes

The City of Ballarat has advised it has reviewed its Immunisation Program and will no longer provide flu immunisation services to adult residents and commercial businesses due to an expansion in service providers in Ballarat.

Adult flu vaccination services are now being provided from medical practices, private flu vaccine providers, community health, Indigenous health services, hospitals and pharmacies. 

The City of Ballarat will focus on providing a quality childhood vaccination program to children and students in the municipality, which is in line with local government requirements outlined in the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. Children aged six months to five years will continue to receive the vaccine free from their GP.

Residents and businesses can find their nearest flu vaccine provider by visiting the below websites:

Geelong Otway

Barwon Health Primary Health Partners Clinic Referrals

Barwon Health

Barwon Health has advised that it's Primary Mental Health Psychiatry Clinic based at Primary Mental Health Partners in Myers St, Geelong has temporarily ceased accepting new referrals, effective from 30 April.

Barwon Health has written to Geelong region GPs advising that, at present, patients with non-urgent, mild-moderate mental health issues who have been referred to the clinic may experience up to an eight-month waiting period for psychiatric assessment and management plans. Barwon Health says the high demand for services and their commitment to patient safety informed the decision to prioritise working through the current waiting list. 

It's anticipated it may take between six and eight months to work through the current list, with a view to reopen referrals in October 2019.

Referrals can still be made to the Barwon Health Deakin Psychology Clinic via Primary Mental Health Partners for psychological assessment and intervention.

Should you require urgent advice about a patient’s situation, please phone the Barwon Health Access Team on 1300 094 187.

Early Childhood Early Intervention Services

Did you know there are faster ways to support a child under six with developmental concerns? Clinicians can refer or advise families to refer to  the Barwon Child, Youth & Family (BCYF) Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) team without needing a diagnosis or paediatric review. 

The ECEI approach, is an open referral pathway, which means referrals can come from a range of sources including parents, carers, health professionals and kindergartens.

To begin the process please see the steps below: 

  • Complete a referral form on the BCYF website
  • Family will receive a call from ECEI within two days to arrange an appointment
  • Consult “Developmental Concerns in Children” HealthPathway for more information
  • ECEI can assist by providing short term supports of 3-6 months and service linkages to the family, or if required make recommendations and assist application for an NDIA plan

For further information, please call 1300 012 293 or vist the BCYF website

Great South Coast

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Emergency Medicine without Medicines or Equipment: Teaching on the run for nurses, doctors, and allied health

The Western Victoria PHN Warrnambool office is holding a teaching session on Monday, 20 May 2019 for General Practitioners, GP Registrars, Practice Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Allied Health Professionals.

Learning outcomes include:

  • learn the one minute approach to teaching;
  • learn how to react in stressful situations; and
  • learn the most important skill to teach any clinician (and it is the same for every clinician type).

Attendees will hear from special guest speaker, Associate Professor Tim Baker, MBBS (Hons), BMedSc(Hons), MClinEd, FACEM - Chair of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine's Non-Specialist Training Committee.

The event is also available via webinar. For additional details, view the event flyer or register here.

Wimmera Grampians

National Interoperability Consultation - Horsham Workshop

PHNWesternVictoriaLogo halfsize.094639  adha logo

As part of the national interoperability consultation – Better connections: Your health, Your say – Western Victoria Primary Health Network is hosting a workshop to hear your perspectives on the future of digital health in Australia and how it can best support delivery of modern person-centred health services and empower personal wellbeing.

The Interoperability Program is a priority of the strategy, which was approved in 2017 by all states and territories through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council.

Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy describes interoperability as: At its simplest, the ability to move information easily between people, organisations and systems. It is imperative that when information is shared between people and systems, its meaning is preserved from one context to another so that information is interpreted in the same way.

The Horsham Workshop on Wednesday, 29 May is open to both clinicians and the community to discuss:

  • What are Australia’s digital health aspirations? How can health learn from innovation in other industries?
  • Priority areas – what are the problems we are seeking to solve by making information more accessible? What’s important to you?
  • What does it mean for consumers to be in control of their own information?
  • What features would be important to maintain trust in systems that share people’s information between providers?
  • How do we ensure that no one is left behind, while at the same time allowing early adopters to exercise greater control?

For more information including details to RSVP, view the event flyer.

If you are unable to attend the workshop, you can have your say via the online survey.

DArcy Photography Leanne Beagley 070 cropped and resized2

A busy year ahead

It seems a little late to pass on New Year regards, but as this is my first blog for the year, I do wish you all a very happy and successful 2018. From our perspective, it will be a very busy year indeed.

Today the much publicised codeine changes have come into effect. Most of you would have received regular communications from us about these changes; why it has been put in place and further information that can be of assistance to GPs and Pharmacists when treating and assisting consumers. All this information is available on our website

As well as codeine changes, we have other government initiatives being driven throughout the year. These include the further roll out of My Health Record, the implementation of SafeScript (formerly known as real-time prescription monitoring) training and education for GPs and pharmacist and the implementation of the new PIP QI Incentive from May 2018. This PIP will replace payments for asthma, quality prescribing, cervical screening, diabetes and general practitioner aged care access. Other PIP payments will remain in their current form.

We are committed to supporting General Practice regarding the potential design and/or identification of activities that will support access to the quality improvement PIP. We will continue to update you once more is understood about what is required to access the PIP.

Closer to home, last year the Western Victorian PHN Board endorsed a plan to revise and redevelop the existing Advisory Council program following an extensive review. In September, a new Regional Integrated Council structure was proposed and adopted. An expression of interest process was then implemented to existing council members in November 2017.

There are now four Regional Integrated Councils, combining Clinical and Community Councils across our four regions (Ballarat Goldfields, Great South Coast, Wimmera Grampians and Geelong Otway). The new councils will meet for a launch on February 16th in Ballarat where a focus will be on innovation in action to implement the Strategic Plan. Board members, Executive and Senior Managers will also be in attendance.

Finally I would like to remind all GPs about our upcoming annual GP Refresher event being held at Deakin University (Waurn Ponds campus) on the weekend of 24 and 25 February 2018. The theme this year is ‘Pain, Distress and Palliation’. I understand that registrations are filling fast so make sure you take the time to register.

I hope to meet as many of you as possible at the GP Refresher.

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

General

Expression of Interest: co-design of Alcohol and Other Drugs model of care
Please note: Western Victoria PHN phone number change
Workshops are filling fast for our GP Refresher weekend
PHN Learning Hub: Visit our table at the GP Refresher to learn more!
ePIP – Shared Health Summary upload targets
My Health Record expansion training for pharmacists
Power outages and vaccine fridges
Immunisation update
End of grass pollen season monitoring
Cervical screening self-sampling now available to under screened women
Paediatric asthma surge in February
Safe prescribing of Buprenorphine/Naloxone resource
Applications close soon: Victorian Cancer Survivorship Program - Capacity Building Grands funding
New My Aged Care Fact Sheet for health professionals
My Health Record webinars resume
Contemporary Chronic Disease Management
Foundations of General Practice Nursing Workshop
Save the date: Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference

Ballarat Goldfields

HealthPathways update
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Group
Women of the Grampians - Your Voice is Your Choice
Impact of Psychological Trauma in Rural Settings

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update
New referral templates to Epworth Geelong
Geelong Palliative Care Group
Blood and guts: The Haematologist’s link to Gastroenterology

Great South Coast

HealthPathways update
Turning the Tide for Birth and Breastfeeding Conference

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update
Codeine changes - are you prepared?
Wellness and Life after Cancer
My Aged Care: Information for health professionals
Pathology results and surgery at Wimmera Base Hospital
Dinner with the Federal Minister for Health

General  

Expression of Interest: co-design of Alcohol and Other Drugs model of care

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Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) will issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the co-design of an Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) model of care on 30 January 2018.

Western Victoria PHN will commission organisations in four subregions to co-design with their communities an Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) model of care. Organisations will establish a multidisciplinary project team with formal governance arrangements to undertake a regional AOD co-design project with stakeholders within their communities. A Project team representative of the subregion must include, but is not limited to:

  • AOD treatment provider providing services in the subregion
  • Community Organisation based in and providing services in the subregion, and
  • Primary Care provider based in and providing services in the subregion and general practice based in and providing services in the subregion.

Suppliers will partner with Western Victoria PHN to develop a prioritised model for regional AOD care that best meets the needs of the subregional context utilising the expertise of consumers, their families, primary care and other stakeholders. The model will include the integration of, or redesign of existing PHN funded services to support a more comprehensive, person centred, needs driven, integrated AOD system. Further information is available in the context paper available on the Western Victoria PHN website.

The recommendations developed in these projects will inform an overarching integrated regional AOD model that meets local need and will guide Western Victoria PHN’s broader activities including procurement in the area of AOD.

The EOI can be accessed through https://www.tenderlink.com/westvicphn/with a closing date of 12 noon Tuesday 13 March 2018.

An EOI for the codesign of AOD and Mental Health Models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be released in the coming weeks.

Please note: Western Victoria PHN phone number change

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Some time ago, Western Victoria PHN changed its primary phone number from 5229 1922 to 5222 0800. The redirection has ceased from the old number to the new number. Please adjust your speed dial numbers and contact lists accordingly.

Workshops are filling fast for our GP Refresher weekend

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Western Victoria PHN invites GPs and other health professionals to its flagship western Victoria CPD event - the 2018 GP Refresher.

The theme for this year will be 'Pain, Distress and Palliation'.  Topics include: 

  • Mental Health - Pain Management Strategies
  • Cardiology - Medical management of chest pain syndromes
  • Diabetes - Lower Limb Care, Neuropathic Pain
  • End of Life Distress - Palliation, Pain Management
  • Rheumatology - Rheumatological emergencies in the GP setting
  • COPD - Pulmonary Rehab
  • Orthopaedic Conditions - Paediatric Scoliosis
  • Geriatric dilemma - Deprescribing and maintaining quality of life
  • Paediatric Emergencies - Ketoacidosis
  • Obstetric Emergencies
  • CPR Update.

Date: Saturday 24 February and Sunday 25 February
Time: 11.45am - 4pm
Venue: Deakin University, Waurn Ponds

Please visit our website to register or contact CPD Geelong for further information or phone 5222 0800.

PHN Learning Hub: Visit our table at the GP Refresher to learn more!

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Come and visit the Western Victoria PHN table at the upcoming GP Refresher on 24 - 25 February to learn more about the PHN Learning Hub.

The PHN Learning Hub is Western Victoria Primary Health Network’s new online learning management system developed by Clinician’s Matrix. The PHN Learning Hub allows health professionals to learn, develop and update their knowledge and skills in an efficient and cost effective way, regardless of their location, extending the reach and accessibility of education for health professionals across the western Victoria region.

Health professionals, practice staff and Western Victoria PHN staff can have access to a range of continuing professional development (CPD) learning options such as online courses, webinars, eLearning programs, and live online health related conferences as well as guidelines and decision support tools making the PHN Learning Hub the ‘central hub’ for educational resources. All features are optimized for mobile devices ensuring users can access the PHN Learning Hub at anytime from anywhere.

Health Professionals, practice staff and Western Victoria PHN staff will enjoy the many features of the PHN Learning Hub including:

  • Increased accessibility to CPD through a catalogue of online courses and webinars as well as clinical tools and practice support resources that will be updated on a regular basis
  • Education that aligns with the RACGP CPD&QI requirements
  • Dashboard and detailed views of progress of completion across all learning activities
  • Repository and retrieval of certificates of completion at any time
  • Ability to self-generate Learning Plans
  • Activity completion logbook section to allow uploading of personal entries (e.g. face to face courses) and certificates of completion as well as the ability to link these to learning plans
  • Complete archiving ability and printing for submission for CPD purposes
  • Ability for a helpdesk to access any user’s site without the need for remote access to the user’s computer or mobile device (cloud-based impersonation).

Access
To access the PHN Learning Hub go to http://catalogue.wvphn.cliniciansmatrix.com, click on ‘Register’ and complete the registration form. 

Western Victoria PHN Members should have received their member numbers via post in December. If you have not received it or have misplaced it, please contact us to find out your member number.

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Enquiries
Please email learninghub@westvicphn.com.au or phone (03) 5222 0800. 

ePIP – Shared Health Summary upload targets

Western Victoria PHN logo

The current PIP quarter ended on Wednesday 31 January. If your practice is registered for the eHealth PIP incentive please check that you are on track for the number of Shared Health Summary (SHS) uploads required for your practice.

You need to upload 0.5% of your practice SWPE (standard whole patient equivalent) of the previous PIP quarter, which may be found at the bottom of the front page of your last statement or on HPOS. For example 2,500 SWPE = 13 shared health summaries uploaded. Please contact your designated Primary Care Consultant if you’re unsure how to calculate the number of Shared Health Summaries required to be uploaded.

We also recommend that your practice uploads more than the minimum requirements. This is to not only ensure you remain eHealth PIP compliant but contributes to improved quality of care as clinicians begin to view uploaded Shared Health Summaries as part their clinical decision making processes.

The Australian Digital Health Agency website has instructions and video demonstrations on how to do upload Shared Health Summaries easily. 

You can check how many Shared Health Summaries have been uploaded as your most recent versions of clinical software have an inbuilt report . Please contact your vendor directly or Western Victoria PHN has screen sheets available if you have difficulties. The PENCAT SHS recipe can also provide you are report on the number of Shared Health Summaries you have uploaded.

If you’re not going to reach your target of required Shared Health Summary uploads, you will need to withdraw from the eHealth PIP incentive entirely online through the Department of Human Services Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS) . We are aware of audits being performed and where there has been non-compliance to the eHealth PIP incentive, practices may be asked to return ePIP funds paid. Contact PIP for advice specific to your practice:

Please feel free to contact Western Victoria PHN on 5222 0800 if you need assistance. If you have withdrawn from the ePIP, unable to upload Shared Health Summaries, or want to learn more about Shared Health Summaries and how they can be viewed by your GPs when reviewing patients please let us know so we can tailor our support to you in the future.

My Health Record expansion training for pharmacists

Western Victoria PHN logo

Online training with CPD points is now available for pharmacists needing training on the My Health Record expansion.

This year My Health Record is moving to an “opt out” system, which means that all Australians will have a My Health Record created unless they choose not to. Previous trials indicate that around 2% of the population opt out given the opportunity. As such the majority of your patients will have a My Health Record created this year.

To prepare for this change the Australia Digital Health Agency has developed online training with CPD (Group 1 or 2) points attached.

To register for training and record your CPD points:

There are five modules each of which has been accredited for 0.5 hours of Group 1 CPD (or 0.5 CPD credits) suitable for inclusion in an individual pharmacist’s CPD plan. These can be converted to 0.5 hours of Group 2 CPD (or 1 Group 2 CPD credit) upon successful completion of relevant assessment activities.

A certificate of completion will be generated on completion of each module providing that the questions are correctly answered.  We recommend pharmacists copy or print this certificate of completion and self-record it on their CPD plan.

A range of webinars have been developed on My Health Record. Both recorded and live webinars are eligible for self-recorded Group 1 CPD activity points. They can be accessed here: https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/using-the-my-health-record-system/digital-health-training-resources/webinars.

If you have trouble accessing this online training, please contact the Australian Digital Health Agency Help Centre by phone on 1300 901 001 or via email.

If you would like pharmacy training or support for registering for a My Health Record Western Victoria PHN is here to help. Contact Western Victoria PHN directly on 5222 0800 and ask to speak to a team member about My Health Record.

Power outages and vaccine fridges

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Following a recent spate of hot weather and associated power outages across the region, please see guidance from the Department of Health and Ageing on how to manage vaccines during extreme weather conditions.

Immunisation update

Victoria State Gov logo

Chief Health Officer Alert: Important vaccination update for MSM

An outbreak of hepatitis A has been identified in Victoria. As of 12 January, 27 confirmed cases have been identified, and a further 12 cases of hepatitis A infection are being investigated. Of the 27 confirmed cases, all are male and most have not travelled overseas, indicating that hepatitis A is passing between men who have sex with men (MSM) in Victoria. A number of cases have visited sex on premises venues or report using dating apps or websites. Some cases are being identified in people who inject drugs.

Key points:

  • Offer a free, two-dose course of monovalent inactivated hepatitis A vaccine to all MSM who live in Victoria and all people who have injected drugs in the past 12 months and live in Victoria, available from 22 January 2018 until 31 December 2018. Please consider bulk billing your patient to assist this public health initiative, and record the vaccinations on the Australian Immunisation Register.
  • Consider hepatitis A infection in patients presenting with a compatible clinical illness, especially those who are MSM or a person who injects drugs. Take blood for serology (IgM) and liver function tests, advise against sexual activity and food preparation for others, and notify the Department immediately by calling 1300 651 160.
  • Three other vaccines are now being provided for free to MSM in Victoria throughout 2018 - meningococcal ACWY vaccine to combat an outbreak of meningococcal C, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent HPV-related cancers in MSM, and hepatitis B vaccine (an ongoing program).
  • If you are an immunisation provider please order free hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal ACWY and HPV vaccine now from the Department for your MSM patients or clients.

To find out more, please visit the 'Important vaccination update for MSM' on the health.vic website.

Gardasil® 9 vaccine availability in 2018 

Gardasil® 9 vaccine has been introduced onto the National Immunisation Program schedule for adolescents in Year 7 of secondary school (or age equivalent 12 to 13 years old).

Gardasil® 9 vaccine is expected to be available in late January 2018 after stock has been cleared by the TGA and transferred to Onelink. The vaccine order form will be updated and Immunisation Providers will be notified by email so they can place an order. 

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has prepared information about the new vaccine including:

  • Dosage and course interval
  • Guidelines for the age of commencement and immunocompromised adolescents
  • Catch-up vaccination and scenario's for transitioning to the new vaccine for people who have not previously completed a course.

A link to the ATAGI information will be provided once it is available on the Immunise Australia web page.

Gardasil® 9 vaccine is not required for people who have previously completed a course of Gardasil®.

Provided the Gardasil® vaccine is within its expiry date please clearly label it and separate it from the new Gardasil® 9 vaccine stock in your vaccine fridge. The Immunisation Section will provide advice about management of the Gardasil® stock you are still holding when the new stock becomes available.

Three changes to free vaccines available from the department

From 22 January 2018 until 31 December 2018 all men who have sex with men (MSM) who live in Victoria, and all men and women who have injected drugs in the past 12 months and live in Victoria, will be able to get access to a free, two dose course of hepatitis A vaccine, Havrix 1440®.

In addition to the free hepatitis A vaccine, the free meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Menactra®) program previously announced in a CHO Alert on 7 December 2017, has been extended and is now free for all MSM until 31 December 2018.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil®, is also now free for all MSM aged up to 26 years of age until 31 December 2018.

The hepatitis B vaccine, Engerix B®, remains free to all MSM as a long-term approach to protect against liver disease and liver cancer.

To order vaccines for your patients, please use the updated Government vaccine order form 2018.

Factsheets to support immunisation providers are now available

Two factsheets have been developed for immunisation providers, regarding health and vaccine issues for MSM patients, and also persons who inject drugs. These fact sheets are available on the department’s factsheets webpage

We encourage you to review these documents, and to use them to help guide discussions with your patients. If you find that any frequent questions or issues come up that are not covered in the material, please let the Immunisation Unit know by emailing immunisation@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

2018 Immunisation schedule Victoria

In Victoria the routine schedule of vaccines is provided free under the National Immunisation Program and the Victorian funded immunisation program. It includes vaccines provided for children, adolescents and adults at increased risk of vaccine preventable disease.

To find out more download the new schedule from the health.vic website

End of grass pollen season monitoring

Victoria State Gov logo

To coincide with the end of grass pollen season Victoria’s epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasting system ceased delivering forecasts on Sunday 31 December. Epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasts will resume at the start of the Victorian grass pollen season on 1 October 2018.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Charles Guest, says the end of the risk of the grass pollen season for 2017 does not mean people with asthma or hay fever should be complacent
when it comes to their asthma management and symptom control.

Good asthma management means taking preventer medication regularly as prescribed, using inhalers correctly and seeing your doctor if there are any ongoing symptoms. For more information on thunderstorm asthma and asthma first aid visit: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.

Cervical screening self-sampling now available to under screened women

VCS Pathology

VCS Pathology will be the first pathology service in Australia to commence testing of self-collected samples from eligible women under the renewed National Cervical Screening Program.

This initiative will enable women who avoid Pap smears to take the sample themselves and have access to lifesaving cervical screening tests. A Victorian pilot project of self-sampling involving VCS has demonstrated high acceptability of self-sampling amongst under screened Aboriginal, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and disadvantaged women, with 86% of women who refused a practitioner collected sample accepting the invitation to self-sample.

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Paediatric asthma surge in February

National Asthma Council Australia

The National Asthma Council Australia is asking doctors to help their young asthma patients have a great start to the school year by ensuring their healthy return to the classroom.

Studies in Australia and the UK show that asthma hospitalisations surge during the first month of the school year, with cases in Australia tripling in children aged five to 14 years and doubling in pre-schoolers. While increased risks have also been recorded at the start of subsequent school terms, the February spike is by far the most significant.

National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson and respiratory paediatrician, Professor Adam Jaffé, said that the one in 10 Australian children with asthma often have symptoms at school.

“At the start of the school year factors such as stress, shared viruses, less strict asthma management over the holidays and a change of environment or allergens can trigger asthma in children and teenagers.

“The impact of these asthma flare ups, including missed school days, can be reduced if children and their parents and carers are properly prepared.

He urged doctors to check their paediatric patients’ asthma, including ensuring that patients are taking their preventer medications as prescribed, reviewing their device technique and ensuring their asthma action plan is up to date.

“It’s important that doctors remind parents to share their child’s asthma action plan with school teachers, after school carers and sport coaches so they are prepared should an asthma flare-up occur.

“Parents should also be familiar with their school’s asthma policy including whether their child can carry their own reliever,” said Professor Jaffé.

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Safe prescribing of Buprenorphine/Naloxone resource

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Dr Paul Grinzi provides clinical information and practical advice on the prescribing of Buprenorphine/Naloxone combination medication to treat opioid dependence in an updated Buprenorphine/Naloxone - Safe prescribing webinar which is now live on the RACGP Victoria Resources page.

Applications close soon: Victorian Cancer Survivorship Program - Capacity Building Grands funding 

Victoria State Gov logo

Applications for these grants will close at 2pm on Tuesday 13 February.  These grants will fund a maximum of five projects over the course of 12 months and will provide up to $100,000 to eligible services.

Services can leverage existing funding or initiatives, adopt an existing model or address a specific survivorship matter or resource need. The funding is for projects that re-design services, develop new models of care, develop new resources etc.

More information can be found at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/about/health-strategies/cancer-care/cancer-projects/victorian-cancer-survivorship-program.

Application forms are housed on the Victoria Cancer Agency website http://www.victoriancanceragency.org.au/index.php/vcsp.

Successful projects will need to commence on 31 May 2018 and be completed by 30 May 2019.

Please contact Georgina Akers on 9096 2133 if you have any queries.

New My Aged Care Fact Sheet for health professionals

Department of Health

The Department of Health has recently published a new Fact Sheet for health professionals to help them better understand their role in My Aged Care, and how they can assist their patients with their aged care journey. The fact sheet provides health professionals with an overview of:

  • How to refer a patient for an aged care assessment via the online referral form, phone or fax
  • The process for assessing care needs undertaken by the My Aged Care assessment workforce
  • The referral pathway to access services following an assessment
  • Some common questions or scenarios a health professional might face, and how to respond.

To find out more, please see the new My Aged Care Fact Sheet.

My Health Record webinars resume

My Health Record

Webinar 4: My Health Record - Privacy, Security and Patient Consent
This webinar will outline the security features of the My Health Record system, the legislation which underpins healthcare providers' use, and providers' obligations as they relate to consumer consent. It will be useful for healthcare providers in establishing policies and procedures which support the My Health Record privacy, security and patient consent requirements.

Date: Thursday 1 February
Time: 5pm - 6pm AEDT
Register

Webinar 5: My Health Record - Communicating with Consumers

This webinar will outline for healthcare providers how and what to communicate with consumers regarding My Health Record and the range of materials on offer to support this communication, as well as how to register a consumer through clinical software. It will be useful for healthcare providers in supporting consumers to understand what the system is and how to manage their records.

Date: Thursday 8 February
Time: 5pm - 6pm AEDT
Register 

Contemporary Chronic Disease Management

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These two day workshops are designed for nurses in all primary health care settings, including general practice, aged care and community health settings. 

Topics covered include care coordination, health assessments, motivational interviewing, wound care on a primary care budget, skin tears, burns and venous leg ulcers plus much more.

Date: Friday 9 February and Saturday 10 February
Time: 9am - 4.30pm
Venue: Cliftons Melbourne

To find out more and to register, please visit the APNA website.

Foundations of General Practice Nursing Workshop

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General practice nursing is a different and unfamiliar environment to other areas of nursing practice. Developed and facilitated by local nurse leaders, this highly engaging two day workshop will provide an overview of the knowledge and key skills required by nurses new and transitioning into general practice, and those looking for an update.

Date: Friday 16 March and Saturday 17 March
Time: 8.45am - 5pm
Venue: Cliftons Melbourne

To find out more and to register, please visit the APNA website.

Save the date: Barwon South Western and Grampians Allied Health Conference

Victoria State Gov logo

This conference will take place on Thursday 31 May 2018 at the Warrnambool campus of Deakin University.

This conference will bring together allied health professionals to support discipline-specific and inter-professional knowledge exchange, optimise collaborative learning about practice innovations and service developments, and to celebrate allied health’s collective contribution to the overall health and wellbeing of the regions' diverse communities.

Registrations opened on Monday 29 January.  To find out more, please email alliedhealthconference@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Ballarat Goldfields

HealthPathways update

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New on HealthPathways:

  • General Medicine - Acute, Non-acute & Advice
  • Intermittent Claudication
  • Parkinson's Disease.

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

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Group

Do you have a client who suffers from bi-polar disorder, depression, substance misuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, eating disorders or addictions? Then this workshop may assist them.

Beginning in mid-February, this DBT group is designed to assist with increasing knowledge skill development in relation to managing emotions and impulse behaviours through the use of acceptance, validation and working towards change through expressive activities. It will assist in defining a meaningful life and what that signifies.

There is no gap charge for the group or individual counselling sessions for those with a GP mental health plan.

To find out more, please contact Marguerite Middling on 0438 744 217 or Helen Baker on 0488 596 256.

Women of the Grampians - Your Voice is Your Choice

Grampians Integrated Cancer Services

This female only event will provide participants with insights into the value and impact their unique voice brings to their communication within professional contexts.

This includes:

  • Face-to-face conversations with colleagues and clients
  • Individual contribution at meetings and to group discussions
  • Virtual communication parameters (telephone/mobile and web contexts)
  • Presentations that are delivered to specific audiences at work.

Date: Friday 2 March 
Time: 9.30am - 12pm
Venue: Integrated Living (formerly BDNH), 1818 Sturt St, Ballarat

To find out more and to register, please see this event on the Eventbrite website.

Impact of Psychological Trauma in Rural Settings

University of Melbourne Feb 18

Melbourne University's Dr John Cooper will speak on 'PTSD - what it is and how to treat it' on Tuesday 6 March from 5.30pm - 6.30pm at The Education Resource Centre, Ballarat Health Services. 

Dr Cooper has worked in various clinical settings, both hospital-based and in the community, specialising in veteran and military mental health and he has provided assessment and treatment to a wide section of civilian patients with posttraumatic mental health problems.

To find out more about this public lecture, including registration details, please see this flyer and location map.

Geelong Otway

HealthPathways update

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New on HealthPathways:

  • Lymphocytosis
  • Long QT Syndrome
  • Cataracts
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Intermittent Claudication
  • Skin Lesion Excision.

Recently reviewed and updated HealthPathways:

  • Palpitations
  • Chronic Hepatitis B
  • Ovarian Cancer - Established
  • General Medicine Referrals – Acute, non-acute and advice
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Hyperlipidaemia
  • Cervical Screening
  • Pharmacy Management of Codeine Dependence.

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

New referral templates to Epworth Geelong

Western Victoria PHN logo

For practices in and around the Geelong, two new referral templates have been added to our Templates and Resources page for use in Best Practice, Medical Director and Zedmed. They are the:

  • Concussion Clinic Referral Form, and
  • Women’s Health Clinic Referral Form.

Geelong Palliative Care Group

This groups aims to provide palliative care support to patients across the Greater Geelong Region including:

  • Private Palliative care practice
  • St John of God Hospital, Geelong
  • The Epworth Hospital, Waurn Ponds
  • Geelong Private Hospital
  • Anam Cara Geelong & Anam Cara Colac and
  • Community patients residing at home and in residential aged care facilities.

For more please email Geelongpalliativecaregroup@gmail.com.

Blood and guts: The Haematologist’s link to Gastroenterology

St John of God Geelong Hospital

You are invited to attend an education evening for GPs where presenters will speak on:

  • An overview of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Mr Neel Heerasing - Gastroenterologist
  • Iron and B12 deficiencies: Dr David Routledge - Haematologist
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound: Mr Alvin Ting - Gastroenterologist.

Date: Thursday 22 February
Time: 6pm for 6.30pm start
Venue: Education Room, Bridget Clancy Wing, St John of God Hospital Geelong

Light refreshments will be provided.

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

Great South Coast 

HealthPathways update

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New on HealthPathways:

  • General Medicine Referrals – Acute, Non acute and Advice
  • Alcohol Brief Intervention
  • Cannabis Use
  • Perpetrators of Family Violence
  • Transgender Health and Gender Diversity
  • Ear, Nose and Throat Referrals – Acute, Non acute and Advice
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Drug and Alcohol Counselling - public brief intervention services
  • Oncology Referrals - Acute, Non-Acute and Advice
  • Paediatric referrals - Acute, Non-Acute and Advice
  • Home and Community Support for Older Persons
  • Gynaecology Referrals - Acute, Non-Acute and Advice
  • Bariatric Surgery Referrals.

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

Turning the Tide for Birth and Breastfeeding Conference

Warrnambool Breastfeeding Centre

This two day conference will explore and make sense of hot topics in lactation and birthing.

Topics include:

  • Human milk: A big player in the developmental origins of health and disease
  • Floppy poppies – Stiff necks, flat heads and breastfeeding
  • Managing slow weight gain in a breastfeeding baby – “Your advice really matters”
  • Can a baby be allergic to breastmilk? Lactose intolerance, allergies, sensitivities and galactosemia

Date: Friday 16 February and Saturday 17 February
Time: 8am - 7pm (Friday), 8am - 4pm (Saturday)
Venue: Lighthouse Theatre, 185 Timor Street, Warrnambool 

To find out more, please see this flyer and information about sponsorship opportunities.

Wimmera Grampians

HealthPathways update

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New to HealthPathways:

  • Acute General Medicine Referral
  • Non-acute General Medicine Referral
  • General Medicine Advice
  • Skin lesion excision
  • Established malignant melanoma
  • Pigmented skin lesions
  • Acute Dental Services Assessment
  • Non-acute Dental Services Assessment
  • Acute General Surgery Referral
  • Non-acute General Surgery Referral
  • General Surgery Advice.

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

Codeine changes - are you prepared?

Western Victoria PHN logo

Codeine has now been up scheduled to prescription only (from 1 February). This change will significantly affect a number of groups including consumers, pharmacists, general practice and the alcohol and other drug sector. This facilitated discussion is designed to bring these various groups together to discuss ways to best manage this change and the potential emergence of presentations of poorly managed pain and/or codeine dependence in primary care.

Discussions will be centred on how we can work together to get the best outcomes for these patients; appropriate referrals and what clinicians need in the form of support and education for the changes.

This change will affect everyone in primary care so it's important to be part of the conversation!

Panel discussions will be facilitated by Pene Wood, Opioid Management Clinical Advisor, Western Victoria PHN.

If you have a particular case study you would like addressed on the night please forward details to Vernetta Taylor, CPD Consultant, Horsham.

Date: Tuesday 13 February
Time: 6.30pm for 7pm - 9pm discussion
Venue: Horsham Golf Club, 304 Golf Course Rd, Haven

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

Wellness and Life after Cancer

Wellness video

Do you have a patient who has finished, or are on long term cancer treatment such as Hormone therapy? They could benefit from the Wellness and Life after Cancer program being delivered in Stawell, Warracknabeal and Horsham.

The eight-week, two hourly program is delivered by local health professionals and includes personal assessment, exercise sessions and group education using telehealth. The program will focus on fitness and strength, performing daily tasks, coping with life and connecting with others.

“This program helped me make new friends, learn to breathe better and achieve my goal of cooking for myself again," Roger, 2017.

Programs are taking registrations now. Stawell and Horsham programs commence on Thursday 1 March, and Warracknabeal commences Thursday 26 April.

Participants can register by calling their nearest participating health service:

  • Stawell Regional Health - 5358 8630
  • Wimmera Health Care Group - 5331 9333
  • Rural Northwest Health - 5396 1315.

Cancer Council Victoria acknowledges the support of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Grampians and Hume Regional Integrated Cancer Services.

My Aged Care: Information for health professionals

My Aged Care logo

My Aged Care is the entry point for older Australians to access information about aged care services. Health Professionals play a key role in supporting patients to access these services. This fact sheet provides you with information on your role in a client’s aged care journey and provides you with guidance in supporting client discussions.

Pathology results and surgery at Wimmera Base Hospital

Wimmera Health Care Group

If you have a patient that is requiring surgery, would you please ensure that you also list Wimmera Base Hospital as needing access to pathology results on Pathology Request forms. The hospital is unable to access GP ordered results on the electronic pathology system and this has resulted in repeat pathology tests being performed. Thank you for your assistance.

Dinner with the Federal Minister for Health

Andrew Broad

Andrew Broad MP, Federal Member for Mallee invites you to a meal and discussion with the Hon. Greg Hunt, Federal Minister for Health.

Date: Wednesday 21 February
Time: 6.30pm for 7pm start
Venue: Horsham Golf Club, 304 Golf Course Rd, Haven
Cost: Food and drinks at bar prices

Please email or call 1300 131 620 with your response by COB Wednesday 14 February.