Murray PHN eNews #88 | Are you prepared for codeine changes?


Edition 88  | Are you prepared for codeine changes?

Over-the-counter codeine -  prescription only from 1 February

From 1 February, over-the-counter products containing codeine will no longer be available to consumers without a prescription. This decision was made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) based on evidence and advice provided after consultation with health professionals, industry, patients and peak bodies.

Codeine has commonly been used to help manage mild to moderate pain and is sometimes subject to misuse and dependence. GPs have a significant role to play in the upscheduling of codeine as medication prescribers and need to be prepared for the changes. Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) service providers may see increased demand by clients for their services.

There are a range of resources available for GPs, pharmacists, alcohol and other drugs service providers to help them with this transition. These include:


After Hours program update

The After Hours program targets communities and patient groups most in need. It works towards addressing gaps in after hours service arrangements and improving service integration.

Late last year, Murray PHN engaged The University of Melbourne to undertake an evaluation of after hours activities. The evaluation was carried out to help us better understand the impact of previously commissioned services and to assist in developing a strategic framework and guiding principles for future investment.

A new round of after hours commissioning will take place in the first half of this year  and information will be made available through the TenderSearch website. For details about the  Program, how needs are determined  and  next steps click here.

Free vaccinations for men who have sex with men (MSM)

The Chief Health Officer has issued an alert advising of a new, free vaccination program for men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs to help combat an outbreak of Hepatitis A.

From 22 January 2018 until 31 December 2018 all men who have sex with men and all men and women who have injected drugs in the past 12 months who are living in Victoria will be able to access a free, two dose course of Hepatitis A vaccine, Havrix 1440. Additionally:

  • The free meningococcal ACWY vaccine program has been extended and will be free for all MSM until 31 December 2018.
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil  will be  free for all MSM aged up to 26 years of age until 31 December 2018.
  • The Hepatitis B vaccine, Engerix B, remains free to all MSM as a long-term approach to protect against liver disease and liver cancer.
Click here for more information.

Primary mental health services update

Murray PHN is commissioning primary mental health services, with new arrangements being introduced from March 2018. The evaluation of proposals in response to the Request for Proposal (RFP) released in December is on track.

As a result of commissioning, there may be some changes in service provider arrangements across the catchment and some short-term disruption may be experienced while new service arrangements are being established.  Murray PHN will work with health services, including general practice, to communicate new provider arrangements and what that means for referrers and patients in local communities across the catchment.  More information for GPs can be found here.

Localised clinical and patient health information
The following Murray HealthPathways in the areas of infectious diseases and gastroenterology have recently been localised to the Murray PHN region. Note that you must be registered and logged in to access these Pathways. Health professionals in our region can get free access  here.

Suicide intervention skills training in Benalla    suicide prevention  

Current and former serving members of the Australian Defence Forces are some of the most resilient people in the country but their mental health can suffer, just like the rest of the population.  Sometimes these mental health issues can escalate and individuals may become at risk of suicide.

Operation  Life  is a government initiative to equip veterans and their families with the tools to recognise and act on suicidal tendencies in the early stages.  Operation  Life  aims to prevent suicide and promote mental health and resilience across the veteran community. As part of this initiative, a two-day training course for veterans, families and friends of veterans will be held in Benalla on 22 and 23 February. For more information  click here.

Expression of interest for Flying Doctor Telehealth    rural health  

Travelling to access specialist services often places a large burden on patients in rural areas. Flying Doctor Telehealth offers the opportunity for patients to access specialist services without leaving their communities.

Flying Doctor Telehealth offers access to bulk billed endocrinology, respiratory, cardiology and psychiatry specialists on a secure platform. Features include an easy to-use online booking system, low wait lists and expert support from the Flying Doctor Telehealth team. The service is available to all GP practices, community and health services in rural Victoria at no cost. Click here to complete an expression of interest if you would like to find out more.

Gardasil 9 vaccine availability in 2018    immunisation  

The Gardasil 9 vaccine, announced last year, will be introduced to the National Immunisation Program schedule from late January 2018 for adolescents in Year 7 of secondary school (or age equivalent 12 to 13 years old).

Availability of the vaccine is expected in late January once stock has been cleared by the TGA and transferred to Onelink. The vaccine order form will be updated at this time and immunisation providers will be notified by email so they can place an order. Until this time only Gardasil will be available to order after discussion with the immunisation section for people completing a vaccine course.

Treating HIV and Hepatitis B in general practice    blood borne viruses  
Did you know that HIV and Hepatitis B can be safely treated and effectively managed in general practice? Many patients do not need a referral to a specialist and can be cared for by a local GP with s100 accreditation, negating the need for potential long trips and waits at hospital clinics.
To find out if there is an  accredited GP close to you, go to  Hepatitis B community prescribers or HIV community prescribers. If you would like to know more about the program, or if you are a GP interested in becoming a s100 prescriber  click here  or contact e:  or t: 03 8578 0536.Cervical screening self-sampling now available  cancer screening  
VCS Pathology will be  the first pathology service in Australia to begin testing self-collected samples from eligible women under the renewed National Cervical Screening Program. This initiative will enable women who avoid Pap smears to take the sample themselves to access lifesaving cervical screening tests.Self-sampling is available to women who are at least 30 years old and who are under-screened (four years or more since last Pap test) or have never been screened and who decline a practitioner-collected specimen. Instructions for practitioners are available here.

End of grass pollen monitoring season    thunderstorm asthma  
To coincide with the end of grass pollen season, Victoria's epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasting system  ceased delivering forecasts on 31  December  2017. Epidemic thunderstorm asthma forecasts will resume at the start of the 2018 Victorian grass pollen season on 1 October  2018.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Professor Charles Guest, says the end of the risk of the grass pollen season for 2017 does not mean people with asthma or hay fever should be complacent when it comes to their asthma management and symptom control. For more information on thunderstorm asthma and asthma first aid click here.

Murray PHN CPD and events
Network meetings
CPD events

Murray PHN news

  • Murray PHN CEO Matt Jones has been appointed as Deputy Chair of the Victorian PHN Alliance for 2018. The Alliance provides a platform for Victoria's six PHNs to collaborate and share resources and knowledge.

Murray PHN career opportunities

Regional news

Government news


External CPD events and education

  • Click here  to access a list of  CPD and education events delivered by other organisations  locally and nationally.


Surveys and consultations

Grants and funding



My Health Record webinars

The Digital Health Agency is holding two free webinars to help health professionals with the My Health Record System:

My Health Record - Privacy, Security and Patient Consent |
Thursday 1 February 5-6pm

This webinar will outline the security features of the My Health Record system, the legislation which underpins healthcare providers' use, and providers' obligations as they relate to consumer consent. It will be useful for healthcare providers in establishing policies and procedures which support the My Health Record privacy, security and patient consent requirements. Register here.

My Health Record - Communicating with Customers |
Thursday 8 February 5-6pm

This webinar will outline for healthcare providers how and what to communicate with consumers regarding My Health Record and the range of materials on offer to support this communication, as well as how to register a consumer through clinical software. It will be useful for healthcare providers in supporting consumers to understand what the system is and how to manage their records.   Register here.

Copyright © 2017 Murray PHN, All rights reserved.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this newsletter is accurate. Information in this  newsletter  may be duplicated in other media with due  acknowledgement  of the originating sources. Murray PHN does not  necessarily  endorse products and/or  services  advertised in this publication.Murray PHN gratefully acknowledges the financial and other support from the Australian Government Department of Health.
Murray PHN ABN  92 156 423 755You can subscribe to this newsletter via our website by


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