Box 12. Key emergency planning and management tasks and activities undertaken by local governments
Engagement with all levels of government
Communication with all levels of government
Maintenance of strong links with emergency services
Development and maintenance of regional emergency plans
Establishment and maintenance of strong links with PHNs and general practices
Coordination of agency response (dependent on hazard)
General practices are a unique, important and essential component of health system infrastructure. GPs play an ongoing critical role in emergency management and response from the immediate/acute phase to the long-term recovery phase. GPs also play a key role in triage, coordinating care for patients between other service providers, and managing ongoing chronic illness, general health issues and other illnesses arising both during and after an emergency.
During an emergency, GPs may need to look after patients with medical conditions that would otherwise be referred to hospitals (eg heart attacks) as hospital services may be exhausted by patients affected by the emergency.
Similarly, the profession also plays a key role in educating community members and providing patients with quality health information in preparing for an emergency.
Primary Health Networks
PHNs are local organisations and are directed by local clinicians and other community health leaders. Given that they are regional primary healthcare organisations, they are responsible for data collection and identifying gaps in services and vulnerabilities in patient populations for their region. PHNs have been identified as the most appropriate organisations to support primary healthcare facilities in developing emergency response plans and business continuity plans.