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Practice News is a fortnightly publication for GPs and general practice staff. Please share it with any healthcare professionals in your practice.

30 JULY 2020


In this issue:

COVID-19 Stats for our Region

Local COVID-19 transmission in the last four weeks in the Nepean Blue Mountains region (as at 8pm 29 July):Confirmed cases: 8 Cases with unknown source: 1

  • Blue Mountains: Total Cases 5
  • Hawkesbury: Total Cases 0
  • Penrith: Total Cases 3. Unknown source 1
  • Lithgow: Total Cases 0

NSW Health Amber Alert FAQs Updated

NSW Health issued an Amber Alert on Friday 24 July, which applies to surgical mask use within 1.5 metres of patients in NSW Health facilities including hospitals, community and in home health services. NSW Health updated the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control: Response and Escalation Framework FAQs document on 28 July. Private and independent healthcare providers may refer to this advice for guidance and to inform their own local risk assessments. 

Government Updates

Updates have been made to the following guidance:

From 1.00am Saturday 1 August, the QLD border will be closed to Greater Sydney residents. 


GP Input Needed: RACF Outbreak Response

The impact of COVID-19 on an aged care facility can be devastating. To ensure our region is better prepared for managing any COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities, we are asking all GPs who provide care to local RACF residents to complete our short online questionnaire before Wednesday 5 August. This is a vitally important piece of work, and we need all GPs working with RACFs to provide their input.

Feedback Needed about Our COVID Emails

We are asking GPs, nurses and practice managers to complete a two-minute survey to give us feedback on our COVID email communications. This feedback will help us improve our communications to you and ensure the information we provide is relevant to your needs

A reminder that our Psychological Therapy Services have been extended to include people significantly impacted by bushfire, including emergency services personnel and their families.

The PTS Bushfire Stream is suitable for anyone in the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Lithgow or Penrith experiencing high levels of distress resulting from the 19/20 ‘Black Summer’ Bushfires. 

Anyone wishing to access this stream must consult with and be referred by their GP. A mental health plan is not needed however GPs may choose to complete one at their discretion.

The stream provides individuals or families up to 10 face to face or telehealth sessions and is available until June 2021. Families who meet the eligibility criteria may be referred and seen together rather than individually. To make a referral, GPs must call the PTS line on 1800 223 365 and complete the PTS referral form.

Increase in Hospital ED Diabetes Patients

Hospitals in our region have noticed an increase in Emergency Department admissions for patients in crisis with diabetes. Anecdotally this suggests these patients may not be attending their primary healthcare check-ups out of fear of COVID-19. We encourage practices to reach out to their patients with diabetes to encourage them to attend their regular appointments. If you need assistance with your clinical data, contact our Practice Support team.

SOS Service

We are currently experiencing excess demand for our Seek Out Support (SOS) service. To assist us in managing this demand, we are asking GP referrers to carefully assess patients and consider other suitable care options to ensure the service is limited to eligible patients. Please read our SOS Service Update (July 2020).

Practice Nurses Signing NDSS Forms 

From 1 August 2020, practice nurses are authorised to complete and sign/certify some NDSS forms.

This business process is optional. A practice nurse would not be required to certify a form unless it is within their scope of practice, knowledge and experience.


New HealthPathways: PTSD 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects 5% of Australians, although certain populations have significantly higher risk e.g. military veterans, emergency responders, sexual assault survivors, domestic violence victims, children and incarcerated Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people. This pathway helps navigate the complexities of assessing and managing patients who may have PTSD.

Pneumococcal Vaccine Schedule Changes

Recommendations for Pneumococcal Vaccine have changed for people with risk conditions, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people, and older adults. There are changes to the timing and type of pneumococcal vaccine (Prevenar 13 and Pneumovax 23). The single dose of Pneumovax 23 previously provided at 65 has been moved to 70 and has been replaced with Prevenar 13.3. The number of doses of Pneumovax 23 that people receive is now two. Full list of changes

Drug Warning Counterfeit Alprazolam

There have been increasing reports of counterfeit alprazolam products found in Australia. At the same time, NSW Poisons Information Centre alprazolam overdose consultations have doubled.


RACGP AOD Connect: Project ECHO

The RACGP’s AOD Connect: Project ECHO is now available to all members. The sessions will focus on how to provide patient centered care to your AOD patients, understanding patient circumstances and how to unpack complex patient presentations.

Natural Disaster and Emergency Response

The NSW Rural Doctors Network has launched an Expression of Interest opportunity for primary health care practices to apply for up to $10,000 to address the significant physical, social or emotional impacts of a natural disaster or emergency. This applies to Blackheath and Lithgow in our region.

Management of Type 2 Diabetes Handbook

The RACGP and Diabetes Australia are supporting GPs in their management of type 2 diabetes through the resource: Management of type 2 diabetes: a handbook for general practice.

BreastScreen NSW has resumed breast screening, following a short suspension of eight weeks due to COVID-19. Capacity at some sites will be limited initially, a staged approach to resumption of service is planned and the mobile screening fleet will be directed to areas of greatest need.  
  • Hawkesbury: BCI Sunflower Clinic St John of God Hospital Hawkesbury District Health Service 2 Day St, Windsor.11 August - 7 October. Print poster.
  • MYER Penrith: 585 High St Penrith, NSW  2750. Print poster.
  • Blue Mountains: Blue Mountains Hospital, Ground Floor, Cnr Woodlands Road and Great Western Hwy, Katoomba, NSW  2780. Print poster.
  • Lithgow: BCI Sunflower Clinic, Lithgow Valley Plaza, Cnr Lithgow and Bent 28 .July -7 August 2020. Print Poster.


Read the latest news from Lizz Reay, our CEO:

Survey: Trauma Related Mental Health Problems 

This Charles Sturt University School of Psychology study is recruiting GPs and Psychologists for an online survey evaluating the needs of clinicians who manage patients with trauma related mental health problems. The survey takes 35-45 minutes and involves a short training exercise.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare New Reports

Steps for Managing Spinal Injury

The Spinal Cord Injury network has produced a "Quick steps for managing Pain in people with SCI"

 Local healthcare positions

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Upcoming local events

Resources for General Practice

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