September 2021

Chair report

Message from the Chair – Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe

Hello everyone.

Pandemic crisis-response measures continue to dominate the work of GPs across NSW, the ACT and Victoria, with vaccination and COVID-19 case management featuring as our upfront conversations. Sadly, infections will continue to rise along with the associated death rates. The efforts of GPs have been truly admirable, and the vaccination rates achieved through general practices over the last few weeks are really impressive. I’d like to personally thank all GPs who have been participating as vaccine clinics since the start of rollout and welcome on board newcomers to the program, as well as those who have been assisting with the vaccine hubs and pop-up clinics.

As all of NSW is now a hotspot, the use of telehealth is exempt from the previous 12-month end date, and we should all continue to keep face-to-face consultations to an absolute minimum. Please use the NSW Health personal protective equipment (PPE) directions to guide you in what PPE to use when doing face-to-face work.

NSW Public Health Order (COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Workers) 2021 covering the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers has caused some confusion. The NSW Health Minister has since exempted GPs, but the RACGP considers vaccination of all healthcare workers to be necessary in fulfilling our duty of care to patients and building vaccine confidence in the community.

We’ll continue to advocate in partnership with the Australian Medical Association, NSW Health and ACT Health as well as politicians, the general public and in the media around our ongoing need for achievement of high vaccination rates to move us out of lockdown and toward the ‘new normal’.

I again encourage you to join and participate in the COVID-19 virtual community of practice for the rich experience and up-to-date information shared by members around NSW and the ACT.

Look after yourselves, your colleagues and your families. Your health and wellbeing are as essential as ever in responding to the pandemic and our continued efforts to protect our patients and the wider community.

Calendar of events

Events calendar

Event Date CPD points
Medico-legal issues and the COVID-19 vaccine program Tuesday 28 September
7.00–8.00‌ pm (AEST)
Two points
Aortic stenosis: Diagnosis, referral and treatment in NSW Tuesday 28 September
7.00–8.00‌ pm (AEST)
Two points
SafeScript NSW: What does it mean? Wednesday 29 September
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEST)
Two points
Gambling awareness training for GPs Wednesday 29 September
7.00–8.30‌ pm (AEST)
Three points
Advancements in limb reconstruction surgery Tuesday 5 October
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)
Two points
Providing treatment for alcohol problems in general practice Tuesday 12 October
7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEDT)
Two points


ACT Medicines management during COVID-19

Refer to the ACT Government Medicines Management during COVID-19 web page for information for health professionals on prescribing, supplying and administering medicines during the pandemic.

NSW Health guidance for termination of pregnancy

The Prevention of Termination of Pregnancy for the Sole Purpose of Sex Selection guideline has been issued by the Health Secretary under s14 of the NSW Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (the Act).

Under the Act, a registered health practitioner performing a termination, or assisting in the performance of a termination, must perform the termination in accordance with this guideline.

Refer to the Framework for Termination of Pregnancy in New South Wales for support for termination-of-pregnancy services to align with the Act and for clarity and safety for registered health practitioners providing terminations of pregnancy.

Amended licence to on-supply the COVID-19 vaccine

The amended licence to on-supply the COVID-19 vaccine allows a GP in a general practice clinic engaged in the Commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination program to supply their stock of vaccine to the responsible person in a residential care facility (RCF) for storage and use in vaccination of residents.

The responsible person in an RCF, under the Poison and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008, is either the director of nursing or, in the case of an RCF with no director of nursing, the RCF manager.

The GP can then write the vaccine order on the patient’s medication chart and an authorised nurse immuniser or GP won’t be required to vaccinate.

New respite service in Canberra for patients with life-limiting illness

Leo’s Place is a home away from home that provides:
  • overnight respite for people living with a life-limiting illness, with the option of their carer staying with them
  • day respite with support and care for people with a life-limiting illness, to allow carers to have a short break
  • access to advice, information and self-care activities for carers.
Those who visit Leo’s Place are:
  • living with a medically diagnosed, life-limiting illness
  • able to self-administer their medications
  • able to attend to most activities of daily living with stand-by assistance provided by support workers
  • able to access clinical services as if they were at home.
For more information and for referral, visit the Leo's Place website.

GPCanShare: Specialist support to manage your patients with cancer

The Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network has recently commissioned hospital-based cancer centres to implement GPCanShare, a new service that enhances cancer management in the region by strengthening integration between cancer and palliative care specialists, community services and general practices.

Patients are managed and monitored in accordance with their care plans by their GP, who is supported by the specialist nurse coordinator. Additionally, the nurse coordinator encourages patients to see their GP when required regarding problems that can be managed in the GP setting. General practice will be able to regularly review care plans and update specific information as needed.

Click here for more information

National news

Webinar: The health effects of climate change

Date: Thursday 30 September 2021
Time: 7.30–8.30‌ pm (AEST)
Venue: Online (Zoom)
Cost: Free
CPD points: Two

Climate change is a major health threat – in fact, it’s been described as the greatest threat to human health for this century. This webinar will introduce you to the health effects of climate change by outlining how anthropogenic global warming is changing our climate and how this change affects human health. We’ll look at opportunities for you to adapt and mitigate the climate crisis, focusing on what can be done regarding patients, practices, communities and yourself.

Register now.

Vacancies: RACGP National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee

You’re invited to express your interest in applying for current and planned vacancies on the RACGP National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee (NREEC) by Sunday 10 October 2021.

The committee has current and impending vacancies for:

  • GP/researcher members with current relevant research experience
  • a practising lawyer
  • laypersons with no RACGP affiliation who don’t currently engage in medical, scientific, legal or academic work
  • a person with knowledge and current experience in the professional care, counselling or treatment of people; eg a nurse or allied health professional.

The NREEC complies with the NH&MRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

Review the role descriptions and terms of reference

For more information, email Gail Roberts, Senior Project Officer, or call 03 8699 0385.

RACGP CPD accredited domestic and family violence training for GPs and practice teams

You and your practice teams have important roles to play in caring for patients experiencing domestic and family violence.

The Readiness Program supports you to continue providing high-quality care for these patients. Participate to build your skills, understanding and confidence in this area.

The program is an RACGP CPD accredited, flexible, multifaceted training program made up of:

  • one-day training workshops
  • virtual practice-centred learning
  • a suite of 30–60-minute eLearning modules
  • live webinars (also recorded for your convenience)
  • a community of practice.
Visit the Safer Families website to find out more and register your interest. 

Important changes to nicotine vaping laws come into effect on 1 October 2021

From Friday 1 October 2021, patients must have a valid prescription from their GP to legally obtain nicotine vaping products from overseas.

You can use the new temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule items for face-to-face and telehealth consultations.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has provided GPs with three pathways for prescribing products that contain nicotine:

  • becoming an authorised prescriber (free and takes a few minutes)
  • using the Special Access Scheme
  • providing a prescription for three months’ supply via the Personal Importation Scheme
We’re working with other peak health organisations to update our Smoking cessation guidelines

NSW Health update*

Call to increase COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal people in NSW

All Aboriginal people aged 12 years and over are eligible and a priority for COVID-19 vaccination.

NSW Health suggests the following strategies to increase COVID-19 vaccination among Aboriginal people:

  • prioritise Aboriginal people for vaccination appointments.
  • contact current Aboriginal patients and offer priority vaccination.
  • ensure people who enquire about vaccination have the opportunity to identify as Aboriginal to confirm their eligibility.
  • initiate conversations about vaccination with Aboriginal patients when they attend for other reasons.

You can find information to help you talk about vaccination on the Department of Health website.

Contact NSW Health if you have questions or would like additional resources to support Aboriginal people regarding COVID-19 vaccination.

SafeScript NSW system to improve safety of high-risk medicines

SafeScript NSW provides prescribers and pharmacists with real-time information about a patient’s prescription history for certain high-risk medicines to improve clinical decision-making and patient safety. 

Prescribers and pharmacists in the Hunter New England and Central Coast regions will be the first to access SafeScript NSW from late October 2021 as part of a phased rollout. All NSW prescribers and pharmacists will have access to the system in the first half of 2022. 

Prescribers and pharmacists will be supported with accredited education and training materials, enhancements to local HealthPathways and a clinical telephone advice service.

Click here for more information. 

Health professionals’ role in Go4Fun

Conducting routine growth assessments of children is important. It helps determine if a child is at or above a healthy weight and supports GPs to provide appropriate care.

If your patients are above a healthy weight and are aged between 7 and 13 years, with the family’s consent you can refer them to Go4Fun.

Go4Fun is a free, evidence-based healthy lifestyle program for children who are above a healthy weight and their families.

To find out more about Go4Fun, complete a free, 12–15 minute module

GPs can refer families that need additional support to the Family Connect and Support Service

Family Connect and Support (FCS) (formerly Family Referral Service) is a statewide network of non-government organisation services that engage and assist children, young people and families who need additional support to access the services they need to prevent escalation of risk. FCS links families to a range of local support services, including case management, housing, parenting education, supported playgroup, drug and alcohol or mental health services, youth support services, and respite care. 

You can refer families to FCS when families have support needs but don’t require a statutory child protection response.

Visit the FCS website for more information and to find your local FCS provider.

Integrated care Paediatric Network initiative

Maddy lives in rural NSW. She was referred to Sydney Children’s Health Network (SCHN) by her paediatrician with liver failure requiring a liver transplant. She was enrolled in the integrated care Paediatric Network initiative and assigned a Paediatric Clinical Nurse Consultant to provide care coordination. Her ongoing care needs are provided in partnership with SCHN and the local hospital via virtual care. A shared-care plan was developed in partnership with Maddy’s parents and her care team, with clear delineation of roles and responsibilities, providing the family with confidence in receiving care closer to home.

To find out more about the integrated care Paediatric Network initiative, visit the NSW Health Integrated care website.

Visit recruitGP – the RACGP’s trusted, single source for general practice employment opportunities across urban, remote and rural Australia.

It’s free for RACGP members.

The RACGP does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may result from reliance on, or the use of, any information contained in this newsletter.