Murray PHN eNews #93 | Preparing for influenza season


Edition 93  | Preparing for influenza season

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Stay safe this Easter weekend
Holiday periods, such as Easter, can often add  pressure on our local emergency departments (ED) and staff.  More people are travelling, participating in  outdoor activities and consuming alcohol. In addition, holidaymakers are unfamiliar with  what  local supports and services are available. To avoid lengthy waiting room delays and strain on our hospitals, consider the following before going to an ED:
  • Try your/a local GP clinic: national health services directory
  • National - For after hours advice and support  1800 022 222
  • Victoria - Nurse-on-call  1300 606 024
  • Bendigo - 24hr Supercare pharmacy  54 434 610
In a life-threatening emergency always call 000. For online and phone support during a health crisis:

Influenza vaccinations 2018 - information for GPs
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has issued important information on the influenza vaccination for 2018, including the types of vaccines available and groups eligible for the free seasonal influenza vaccine. The annual vaccination is the most important measure available to prevent influenza and its complications.The period of peak influenza circulation is typically June to September. Vaccine protection is generally expected to last all season, but optimal protection occurs within the three or four months after vaccination.In Victoria, free government-supplied seasonal influenza vaccines will be available to the following this year:

  • Children aged six months to five years (new Victorian government funded program)
  • People aged five years and over who have a medical risk factor that increases their risk of complications from influenza
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 and over
  • Pregnant women any time during pregnancy
  • Adults aged 65 years and older.
Information about the eligibility and age recommendations for different free influenza vaccine brands is available here. All health professionals are urged to read the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) clinical advice before starting their influenza vaccine programs.

Save a life - register your defibrillator
Ambulance Victoria is urging defibrillator owners to register their potentially life-saving devices, with the whereabouts of around 15,000 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) across the state unknown.

According to Ambulance Victoria, the chance of survival increases by 62 per cent  if a person in cardiac arrest is defibrillated by a bystander before an ambulance arrives.

Information about the location of registered AEDs is available through an online registry, and the data will also be passed on to first responders through new smartphone technology being introduced by Ambulance Victoria.

An estimated 2,500 AEDs are bought in Victoria every year but not registered, often meaning their location is not known to bystanders responding to a person in cardiac arrest. For more information  click here.

Murray PHN has partnered with the Australian Digital Health Agency to support health professionals, and to provide consumer awareness regarding the national roll-out of the My Health Record system. By the end of this year, every Australian will have a My Health Record, unless they choose not to have one.

Nationally, over five and half million Australians (23%) and almost 11,000 healthcare providers are registered.

We have recently updated our My Health Record web-page with information and resources for patients, GPs and Pharmacists:

The following  pathways have recently been localised to the Murray PHN region and are in the areas of orthopaedics, respiratory, investigations, plastic surgery and referral.  Note that you must be registered and logged in to access these pathways. Health professionals in our region can get free access here.

SafeScript: Victoria's real-time prescription monitoring    real-time prescription monitoring    

To reduce the growing harms (including deaths) from high-risk prescription medicines, the Victorian Government is putting a real-time prescription monitoring system (SafeScript) in place.

In 2016, there were 372 Victorian drug overdose deaths involving pharmaceutical medicines. This is higher than the number of overdose deaths involving illicit drugs (257), and higher than the road toll (291).

SafeScript, which will start to roll-out this year, will provide health professionals with access to their patients' prescription history for certain high-risk medicines to enable safer clinical decisions on whether to prescribe or dispense a medicine. Read the FAQs for health professionals here.

Pregnancy, birth and baby service    maternal and child health  

The Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a national telephone, video call and online service that supports parents, families and carers, from pregnancy through to preschool. The service offers free information, advice and emotional support on a wide range of pregnancy and parenting topics, including GPs and their patients.

Qualified maternal child health nurses answer calls to the helpline catering to parents and carers of children aged up to five years. All nurses work part-time on the service which allows them to maintain clinical practice. The  service is a safe, trusted referral point for GPs. The advice is based on Australian best-practice and is easy to follow. Consumers are informed when it's best to seek medical assistance.

Advice and information can be accessed by calling 1800 882 436 or on the website.

Rapid access pathways for lung cancer in Border East  Hume region    cancer  

The  Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre (AWRCC) and its partners have developed a rapid access pathway for all patients with suspected lung cancer within the Border East Hume Region, in alignment with the Optimal Care Pathways for Lung Cancer recommendations.

The Rapid Access Pathway is well-established and functioning efficiently as demonstrated by improvements in the timeliness of care and increased access to local services for lung cancer patients. All local general practitioners are encouraged  to refer through the Rapid Access Pathway for suspected lung cancer cases. For more information click here

Join the TAC's Clinical Panel    transport accidents

The TAC is looking for experienced health and disability practitioners to join its team of experts on its Clinical Panel. Professionals from disability services, allied health, medical and mental health fields are encouraged to apply.

The Clinical Panel's primary role is to conduct reviews and provide clinical support and advice to health professionals treating people who have been injured in a transport accident. It also provides support and advice to the TAC's claims staff to ensure claims-related decisions are clinically informed and justified.

To find out more, click here. You can express an interest in joining the Clinical Panel here by 26 April 2018.

Survey on socialising and alcohol    alcohol and other drugs  
Women aged 18 years and over who identify as a lesbian, bisexual or queer (LBQ) are wanted by the Victorian AIDS Council and VicHealth to answer questions about the way Victorians socialise, particularly when alcohol is available.The project is aimed at understanding  the way LBQ women drink when they are socialising, as well as the social norms, beliefs and attitudes about drinking within the LBQ community. This information will help to design, deliver and evaluate programs and services that promote positive and safe drinking within the community. This project is looking at the regional areas of Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Morwell.To start the survey click here. The survey will close midnight Monday 2 April.

Our third Health Voices survey was emailed out last week, with an amazing 68 responses on the same day. This month we're seeking to understand our Voices thoughts and experiences of flu. According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, more than 11,000 people died from the flu last year, with many of those over the age of 65. Next month we will be asking our Voices about chronic disease.

If you, or if you have a friend or family member who you think we should hear from, suggest they become a Health Voice in their community by registering at: The more voices we hear, the better.

Murray PHN CPD
Network meetings
CPD events
For the full Murray PHN CPD events calendar click here.

Murray PHN news and updates

Regional news

Government news


Research, reports and policies

External CPD events and education

Training and courses

  • Expressions of interest are being taken for the Hume region for a Specialist Certificate in Palliative Care through the University of Melbourne to be delivered in Shepparton. Click here for the program information. You can submit your expression of interest here.  Closing 30 March.


Surveys and consultations

Scholarships and Awards

New codeine rescheduling resources

Copyright © 2018 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  92 156 423 755 


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