Key recommendations for the inclusion of general practitioners into evacuation centres

Key recommendations

Recommendation 4

Recommendation 4: Coordinating messaging during an emergency 

A key role of the PHN is coordinating timely, up-to-date health-related messaging to different stakeholders during an emergency. This should include GPs deployed to evacuation centres and general practices more broadly as part of the disaster response.

The PHN must ensure there is:

  • early communication about impending events to allow GPs and their teams to prepare to respond
  • a key contact point for GPs and their team members working in an evacuation centre
  • processes in place to provide rapid communication among the evacuation response team members, which may include the use of:
    • email
    • text messaging
    • telephone calls
    • Zoom or other video platforms
    • group messaging (eg WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger)
  • ongoing communications as the disaster event unfolds to ensure general practice remains up to date as the situation develops.

The content of communication could include:

  • the status of the disaster response
    • notice of activation of the GP evacuation centre register
    • links to external sites for updates on the disaster (eg fire service, the State Emergency Service, police, local councils)
    • details of activated evacuation centres (as applicable)
  • the status of local health services
    • details of general practicesin the area that are fully or partially operational, including changes to operating hours or service availability
    • details of general practices that are non-operational
    • as available, details of the operational status, operating hours and contact details of other local health services, including:
      • hospitals and public outpatient clinics
      • mental health services
      • alcohol and other drug support services
      • pharmacies
      • allied health
      • relevant specialities for clinical advice, such as infectious diseases, respiratory, burns unit
      • the PHN itself
  • supports for GPs and patients
    • timely updating of relevant HealthPathways, including referral pathways available to direct patients with specific healthcare needs arising from the event
    • the availability of interpreter services and how to access these
    • details on how to access other resources to support patients, such as social, transport or financial support
    • details of funding available to general practices to increase capacity or return to operation.

The PHN has an important responsibility to communicate and follow up with anyone deployed to assist in an evacuation centre or who was registered to assist, but not deployed. An after-action review following a disaster event can support the wellbeing of disaster responders and identify lessons learned, and provides an opportunity to review and improve future planning and deployments.

This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

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