Leanne 2019 westvic news

GP Refresher 2019

Our GP Refresher this year was an outstanding success with close to 200 GPs attending from across our region, and some from outside our region too.

We started with challenging insights into primary health care service redesign from keynote speaker John Macaskill-Smith from New Zealand company Pinnacle Ventures. We then continued for the next two days with some thought-provoking and informative presentations on innovation in chronic care management, identifying and responding to family violence and a very popular ‘airways skills’ workshop.

Thanks to everyone who came along to the GP Refresher, and helped us celebrate our 10th anniversary. See the article below for more details including a link to many of the presentations including the keynote speech.

National Rural Health Conference

It has been a great privilege to attend the 15th National Rural Health Conference in Hobart this week and to talk with people working in rural and remote settings from across Australia.

The theme is ‘better together’ and the emphasis of the presentations I have heard has been explicitly about local action and community-based engagement to generate relevant, real health responses and patient outcomes.

Stand-out presentations for me were from Dr Harry Burns (Scotland) and Professor Fran Baum (Flinders University) who both challenged us to increase advocacy for change and build from community-based expertise.

Good policy does not come from politicians or bureaucracy but from people doing the work and living the challenges.

Dr Leanne Beagley
Chief Executive Officer 


GP Refresher - presentations now online

Advance Care Planning Week 

MBS April Updates

New guidelines for understanding and managing asthma

Rural Medicine Australia Conference

New Nurse Clinic Budget interactive module and Budget template

Nursing Training: Older people with diabetes

HealthPathways update

Ballarat Goldfields 

Helping prevent type 2 diabetes - Ballarat group course

Geelong Otway

Advance Care Planning Week @ Barwon Health

Presentation: Flexible, person-centred management for type 2 diabetes

Community Registers for older or vulnerable residents

Great South Coast

Addressing Eating Disorders in Primary Care 

Wimmera Grampians

Viral Hepatitis Essentials Presentation 


GP Refresher - presentations now online

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GPs from all corners of our region converged in Geelong this month for the 10th annual Western Victoria PHN GP Refresher.

Held over two days on 16 and 17 March, attendees heard from an impressive list of speakers around the theme of Supporting GP specialists: Keeping patients in general practice.

A total of 178 GPs attended the event which was opened with a highly informative presentation from keynote speaker John Macaskill-Smith, CEO of Pinnacle Ventures Ltd in New Zealand and a leader in technology advancements in primary care. Other presenters were all local and many were new specialists in our region. Feedback from attendees has been extremely positive with particular focus on the quality of the presentations.

Thanks again to GP Medical Advisor and chairperson Dr Kellie McDonald for her input including the introduction of 10-minute sprints in Streams 1 and 2. Stream 3 (Emergency Medicine) again was very popular with 52 attendees. The CPR Update also attracted a full house.

Also many thanks to our other GP chairpersons Dr Mark Davies and Dr Michael Homewood along with our major sponsors Servier and Bayer. 

If you missed attending the event or want to re-watch the presentations including the keynote speech, a selection of the sessions is now available online.

And head to our Facebook page to see more photos from the event.

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Advance Care Planning Week

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With nearly one fifth of people living in the Western Victoria PHN region aged 65 and over, advance care planning is an increasing priority for both our community and health sector. Nationally, less than 15 per cent of Australians have documented their preferences in an Advance Care Directive. This is despite the fact half will be too unwell to make their own end-of-life decisions.

Advance care planning (ACP) is about empowering people now and in the future. It retains their voice even if they can no longer easily communicate their wishes. Our GPs and nurses have an important role to help people prepare for the future and consider their choices at a time when tough decisions may need to be made.  

Community and health professionals will be urged to consider future medical care and to understand the importance of ACP as part of Advance Care Planning Week from 1 to 5 April.

ACP need not be complicated. It’s about starting a conversation with your patients on their future health needs, what living well means to them and how plans can be made today to provide a medical care road map for tomorrow. GPs develop ongoing and trusting relationships with their patients and are well positioned to initiative and promote advance care planning.

Advance Care Planning Australia supports the public and healthcare professionals to ensure people’s values and medical care preferences are heard and respected. Their website provides resources and information to start the conversation, provides a roadmap on how to make an advance care plan and tools to identify personal values and how to express and translate them into a value statement for a plan.

Information on Advance Care Planning can be also found on:

MBS April Updates

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New and amended items have been added to the Medicare Benefits Schedule to take effect from Monday, 1 April.

New item for an unplanned attendance unrelated to a planned surgical procedure on the same day

A new item for an unplanned attendance, after the first attendance in a single course of treatment, when a unrelated planned surgical procedure is to be performed on the same day and it is considered a clinical risk to defer the consultation to a later date.

Heart Health Assessment

Item 177 and 699 will support patients with cardiovascular disease, or patients at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, to access the heart health assessment through a doctor in general practice.

The items will fund a heart health assessment, lasting at least 20 minutes, by a general practitioner (699) or a medical practitioner working in general practice (177). The new items will provide patients a comprehensive assessment of their cardiovascular health, identification of any physical or lifestyle-related risks to their cardiovascular health, and a comprehensive preventive health care plan to improve their cardiovascular health.

73341 to be a Pathologist determinable item

Item 73341 has been added to the pathologist determinable items determination.

The 1 April 2019 MBS XML file is now available to download from the MBS website.

New guidelines for understanding and managing asthma

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The National Asthma Council of Australia has released updated guidelines for the understanding and management of asthma.

Both the Australian Asthma Handbook for primary healthcare professionals and the My Asthma Guide for people living with asthma have been revised including updates to the paediatric and severe and acute asthma sections as well as advice on asthma prevention.

For a full list of the changes, download the Australian Asthma Handbook V2.0 summary of changes.

In addition, the Council is seeking a rethink of current asthma management practices as part of a new discussion paper.

The paper, titled Current practice and new approaches in asthma: perspectives of asthma practitioners and patients, collates responses from top asthma health professionals, researchers and patients on how the objectives of the 2018 National Asthma Strategy can be achieved.

The findings are presented under the headings of the five high-level objectives in the National Asthma Strategy 2018:

  • Support effective self-management practices
  • Develop the health professional workforce
  • Enhance asthma care and management
  • Create supportive community environments
  • Promote research, evidence and data

Access the discussion paper from the National Asthma Council of Australia website.

Rural Medicine Australia Conference

Registrations are now open for this year's Rural Medicine Australia (RMA) Conference to be held on the Gold Coast from 24-26 October.

RMA is the peak national event for rural and remote doctors of Australia. Hosted by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), the conference attracts a diverse and collaborative community of junior doctors, students, educators, academics, and medical practitioners who are passionate about generalist medicine in rural and remote communities. The theme for RMA19 is is Riding the Wave of Change focusing on the streams of Rural Health, Women in Health, Family and Community Health, Rural Future, Rural First Responders and Our Rural Doctors.

Abstracts for presentations relating to these themes can be submitted until Sunday, 31 March.

Early bird registration is open until Friday, 31 May.

New Nurse Clinic Budget interactive module and Budget template

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For many nurses working in primary health care, one of the key challenges to starting a nurse clinic is developing the budget. During the 2015-2018 Enhanced Nurse Clinic project, the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) consulted with over 100 key stakeholders and confirmed that financial literacy and developing a budget were two of the most significant challenges to getting a nurse clinic idea off the ground.

In response, APNA has launched a new Nurse Clinic budget – interactive module and budget template on the Nurse Clinic Resource page. The Nurse Clinic budget interactive module shows you step-by-step, how to develop your budget. There is a demonstration as well as an interactive try-it-yourself component that will ensure you understand how to use the budget planner. 

Visit the APNA website for more details and to access the new tools.

Nursing Training: Older people with diabetes

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Deakin University's  Professor Trisha Dunning will help kick off the Australian College of Nursing's 2019 CPD program with a presentation in Melbourne in April on Older people with diabetes- who are they and what do they need?

Professor Dunning chairs the Nursing Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research Barwon Health Partnership within the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Deakin University in Geelong.

She will present an interactive course designed to highlight the increasing prevalence of diabetes in older people, the imperative to proactively plan care and to personalise care with the older person based on their health status, risk assessments and life expectancy. The session will be held in Melbourne on Wednesday, 10 April. You can book for the event here.

A full list of the nursing CPD courses for 2019 is available from the Australian College of Nursing website.

  HealthPathways update


New pages:

  • Poisoning and Drug Overdose
  • Snake Bite
  • Rural Community Support During Adversity

Reviewed pages:

  • Developmental Concerns in Children
  • Perthes Disease
  • Anti-Hyperglycaemic Agents

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

Ballarat Goldfields

Helping prevent type 2 diabetes - Ballarat group course

Diabetes Victoria

The next Diabetes Victoria Life! Program group course will be offered in Ballarat next month.

The free program is funded by the State Government and has already helped over 55 thousand people reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The lifestyle modification program is run by health professionals to teach participants about nutrition, physical activity, sleep, managing stress and setbacks and goal setting as part of the motivation to reach their health goals.

Ballarat Community Health will host the next group course on Wednesday, 8 May. GPs can refer eligible patients to the program. For further information phone 03 8648 1880 or visit www.lifeprogram.org.au 

Geelong Otway

Advance Care Planning Week @ Barwon Health


Barwon Health is hosting a number of events next month to help Geelong and surrounding communities to consider their future medical treatment preferences and care and understand the importance of advance care planning.

Advance Care Planning Week will run from 1 to 5 April. A special event for health practitioners - How do we start the conversation? - will be held on Monday, 1 April and Wednesday, 3 April from 2-3pm. To attend, RSVP by phoning 4215 7723 or email RPCOffice@barwonhealth.org.au 

Barwon Health is also inviting people to attend a series of public presentations on the following days and times:

What is advance care planning?

11am-12pm Monday, 1 April Book here

Planning for a good death by Associate Professor Charile Corke

2-3pm Tuesday, 2 April  Book here

 Start Planning - consumer ACP Workshop

 11am - 1pm Wednesday, 3 April  Book here
 Planning for a good death by Associate Professor Charile Corke  7-8pm Wednesday, 3 April  Book here

All events are being held at Barwon Health St Mary’s Library & Research Centre, 190 Myers Street Geelong. Event attendees will have the opportunity to discuss what living well means to them and learn how plans can be made today to provide a medical care road map for tomorrow. The Voiceless art installation, featuring a realistic sculpture of a 91-year old woman on life support, will be available to view in the foyer of St Mary’s Library & Research Centre during National Advance Care Planning Week 2019.

Presentation: Flexible, person-centred management for type 2 diabetes

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Dr Adam Roberts, Principal Endocrinologist at Barwon Endocrinology, is presenting an interactive presentation and workshop in Geelong next month.

The session - on Wednesday, 3 April - will focus on managing the varied and changing needs of someone with type 2 diabetes while navigating person-centred discussions. The event will include time to discuss case management and share experiences with peers.

Download the registration form for more details

Community Registers for older or vulnerable residents

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Community support registers for the Geelong and Bellarine regions are now available to help elderly or vulnerable people living at home.

The registers securely store residents' personal information including emergency and medical contacts which can be provided to police in the case of a personal emergency. On request, care calls can also be made to registered people to provide extra reassurance for residents who want to remain independent.

Contact details for the registers are as follows:

Great South Coast

Addressing Eating Disorders in Primary Care

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Western Victoria PHN's Warrnambool office is hosting a presentation from Dr Sarah Trobe, Clinical Psychologist, Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED) in May for all interested health practititioners.

Eating disorders affect approximately nine percent  of Australians. They have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and require a multidisciplinary approach. When armed with the right information, screening and referral tools, GPs, psychologists, dietitians and primary care professionals play an important role in early identification and supporting recovery.

This free evening session on Tuesday, 14 May will cover the following topics:

  • Screening and assessment
  • Management and treatment
  • Recovery and essential elements of care
  • Supporting patient and carers
  • Referral pathways and support services

For more details and to register, go to our events page.

Wimmera Grampians

Viral Hepatitis Essentials Presentation


An informative and interactive training session will be held in Ararat next month to help improve the confidence of general practitioners to effectively screen, treat and manage patients with hepatitis B and C and to apply the latest clinical information about antiretro-viral therapy.

The presentation on Wednesday, 17 April will focus on the essentials of Viral Hepatitis diagnosis, management and treatment in primary care. Topics will include at risk populations, modes of transmission, and management, including: risk assessment, screening, testing, diagnosis, and suitability and preparation for treatment.

Dr Matt Penn - a s100 HIV and s100 Hepatitis B prescriber who works at the Centre Clinic, PRONTO and North Richmond Community Health will facilitate the session.

This course has been approved for 4 RACGP Category 2 points.

For more information and registrations, go to our events page.