The purpose of this page is to provide general practice with critical updates, handy tips and information. This page will be maintained regularly with information as it becomes available to us.

Click on the PLUS sign next to the topic of your choice to reveal more information.

APMA currently operates a national network of Pain Support Groups (PSG) throughout Australia, which meet regularly. These PSGs offer support, friendship, information, presentations and guest speakers. The groups are for everyone in the community living with pain (and their family members) and are FREE for APMA members. Non-members are asked to contribute a gold coin at each meeting to reimburse costs.

Location: Traralgon Centenary House, 39 Valley Road, Traralgon


Visit here for more details.

Download the recent report of Choose Wisely Australia detailing the progress of the initiative since its launch in April 2015.

Choosing Wisely Australia is part of a clinician-led global social movement that aims to promote better conversations between healthcare professionals and consumers around appropriate care options to improve the quality, safety and sustainability of our healthcare system.

NPS MedicineWise is an independent, not-for-profit and evidence-based organisation promoting quality use of medicines. We work nationally to improve the way medicines and medical tests are used in practice, and to enable better decision making by clinicians and consumers. As the facilitator of Choosing Wisely Australia, we support Australia’s medical profession to shine a light on unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures that may be ineffective, wasteful, and in some cases, potentially harmful.

To date 28 of Australia’s medical colleges, societies and associations have opted to become involved in Choosing Wisely Australia which is a phenomenal response. These organisations have released 123 recommendations on medical tests, treatments and procedures clinicians and health professionals believe should be questioned based on best practice and evidence.

The Choosing Wisely in Australia 2016 Report highlights progress nationally as we work towards changing clinician and patient attitudes and behaviours around inappropriate healthcare.

There is also strong momentum among Australia’s health services to implement the initiative in our hospitals, with seven currently on board and more who have expressed their interest in joining.

Strong enthusiasm and genuine engagement in Choosing Wisely Australia reflects the appetite across our health sector and community for better, more informed conservations around appropriateness of care choices.

If you have any questions on the report, or would like further information about Choosing Wisely Australia, I invite you to please contact Dr Robyn Lindner, Client Relations Manager (02) 8217 8771 or email

During 2016 and 2017 Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium (GRPCC) and Gippsland PHN delivered several successful interactive sessions providing general practitioners and nurses with practical skills when communicating with their patients.

Gippsland PHN and Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium invite General Practitioners and Practice Nurses to attend communication skills training at your own general practice of at a venue of your choice. The session will be delivered at a day selected between November 2017 and June 2018 to a group of SIX people from your practice.

You are invited to soon book either a 3-6pm or a 6-9pm session at your preferred premises – please note, only ten sessions available.

Complete the information on the attached form and email to Bernie Heaton-Harris, Team Leader Practice Support, or fax to 03 5126 2890 by cob Tuesday, 31 January 2017.

Download the information flyer and registration form.

Patient decision aids are tools that can be used in healthcare consultations to facilitate discussion about the risks and benefits of different treatment options. They present high quality, synthesised evidence about a condition and compare the risks and benefits of treatment options.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), as part of its current program of work,  is developing a series of patient decision aids to support shared decision making and the provision of patient-centred care in general practice settings.

The Commission has released its first three patient decision aids on antibiotic use for sore throat, acute bronchitis, and middle ear infection in children. These have been designed for use in general practice.

An infographic for consumers on patient decision aids has also been developed.

Click here to download the resources from the Commission’s website.


As the patient’s primary health care provider, the role and contribution of the GP is imperative; as is communication from a Multidisciplinary team meeting back to the GP in regard to the care of their patient.

Multidisciplinary care is an integrated team approach to healthcare in which medical, nursing and allied health professionals consider all relevant treatment options and collaboratively develop an individual treatment and care plan for each newly diagnosed cancer patient. There is increasing evidence that multidisciplinary care improves patient outcomes which is pivotal in providing patients with high quality care and treatment.

If you are the general practitioner of a patient currently undergoing cancer treatment, you are invited to participate in a Multidisciplinary Team meeting held every Friday morning to discuss patients who have been newly diagnosed with breast, colorectal, upper gastrointestinal, and skin cancers.

A Lymphoma Multidisciplinary team meeting is held fortnightly on a Friday afternoon and an Advanced Disease Multidisciplinary team meeting held alternate Friday mornings (following the multi tumour meeting).

Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) hosts these meetings with video conferencing to multiple sites across the region including Bairnsdale Regional Health Service (BRHS), Central Gippsland Health (CGH), West Gippsland Healthcare Group (WGHG) and tertiary institutions in the metropolitan area.

With regard to MBS billing the referring practitioner may generate and process claims under MBS  item number 871 whilst other clinicians involved in the formulation of the treatment plan may claim under MBS item number 872.

For further advice and information please contact via the GRICS MDM email ( Access to the Multidisciplinary Team meeting is available either in person at the Health Service, video link or via teleconference.

 Specialist Palliative Care Services quickguide.

The Gippsland Regional Palliative Care Consortium is pleased to announce the release of the Specialist Palliative Care Services Quickguide Gippsland 2017.  This guide provides valuable information about the Palliative Care Services available across Gippsland.

The Quickguide was designed for a  wide variety of people working in the healthcare, human services, social and community sectors whose everyday work brings them into contact with people who have a life-limiting illness, as a  ‘why, when and how’ of referral to specialist palliative care.

Other resources available:

The clinical documents are the result of work by the Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium (GRPCC) Clinical Practice Group.

Ms. Irene Murphy, Nurse Practitioner Palliative Care GRPCC has been the lead clinician on document development, with input from the GRPCC Clinical Practice Group. Various quality and clinical review processes have been undertaken to ensure the guidelines contain current and accurate clinical information applicable to best practice.

These clinical guidelines can be used to inform the practice service’s policy and procedure development as required. We support the regional development of these clinical guidelines to reduce unwanted variation in clinical practice in palliative care. These guidelines are accessible through the GRPCC website, under: Health Professionals / Resources / Palliative care guidelines for policies and procedures.

GRPCC request your assistance to initiate the clinical approval processes within your service should you wish to utilise these documents through your document control system.

Should you have any queries related to these documents please contact the GRPCC Consortium Manager:

Anny Byrne, Consortium Manager, Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium

Phone: 56230684 or email:

Phased 2017 start to Health Care Homes services

Health Care Homes services will have a phased start this year. Twenty practices will begin Health Care Home services on 1 October 2017. These will be announced soon. The other 180 practices will begin on 1 December 2017. To see the list of the 200 selected Health Care Homes practices, go to the successful grant recipients’ section on the Tenders and Grants page.

Health Care Home resources

For FAQs, fact sheets, case studies and e-newsletters, go to Health Care Homes’ health professionals’ page then scroll down to more information e-newsletters, fact sheets and booklets

This page is frequently updated and includes:

·         Health Care Homes information booklet

·         Minimum requirements of shared care plans fact sheet

·         Payment information fact sheet

·         Patient eligibility fact sheet

·         Stage one modelling fact sheet 

·         Health Care Homes and the quadruple aim

·         Case studies: Best practice examples of chronic disease management

·         E-newsletters — you can also subscribe to and see the latest Health Care Homes e-newsletters on the more information page.

Information for consumers and patients is available on the Health Care Homes for consumers’ page.

Information for health professionals is available on the Health Care Homes for health professionals page.

A refreshed Healthy Choices policy guideline suite has been released and is now available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.  Healthy Choices is a framework for improving availability and promotion of healthier foods and drinks and reducing  the availability of unhealthy options, to make healthy choices the easy choices in Victorian hospitals, workplaces, sports and recreation centres and parks.  

The Victorian Government is putting health at the centre of our everyday lives through placed-based systems approaches in prevention and health promotion. This includes increasing access to healthy food and drinks where people spend their time. The Healthy Eating Advisory Service provides specialist support to implement the Healthy Choices guidelines across hospitals, workplaces and food industry to provide healthier food choices through menu/product assessments, mentorship and training.

Further information and downloads of the Healthy Choices resources can be accessed via the Department of Health and Human Services nutrition website. If you have any questions regarding the Healthy Choices suite, please contact Sharon Laurence at or Veronica Graham at

This is an important update to inform health care professionals about the interim arrangements for the National Cervical Screening Program.

The renewed National Cervical Screening Program will take effect on 1 December 2017

The renewed National Cervical Screening Program will be implemented on 1 December 2017, supported by the National Cancer Screening Register.

Until the renewed National Cervical Screening Program is implemented, our existing world-class cervical screening program will continue as per the current screening pathway for eligible women. It is important that women due for their two yearly cervical screening continue to be tested using a cytology based cervical screening test such as the Pap test.

On 23 February 2017, the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy announced the change in this statement. We understand that some health care professionals and women may have chosen to align cervical screening with the start of the new Cervical Screening Test (primary HPV test) and, understandably, are disappointed by this unexpected delay.  This has led to a number of enquiries about this interim period. Please use the information provided below to guide both your practice and your conversations with women.

Cervical screening until the renewed National Cervical Screening Program is introduced on 1 December 2017

  • Until 1 December, all women aged between 18 and 69 who have ever been sexually active should continue to have a Pap test every two years.
  • Health care professionals need to encourage women to continue screening as health care professionals play an important role in maintaining women’s participation in cervical screening. Some states and territories are reporting small reductions in the number of women having their two yearly Pap test since the beginning of 2017.  
  • If a woman visits for a Pap test prior to 1 December 2017 and is under 25 years of age, a Pap test should be performed as usual.
  • State and territory registers will continue to send reminder letters to eligible women as per the current process. Health care professionals are also encouraged to continue to send reminder letters to their patients as per their current process.
  • The delay has created some additional pressures on pathology providers, so turnaround times for results may be lengthened.  However, this is still clinically safe for women.

Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) arrangements

1 May – 30 November 2017

  • The current MBS item for the conventional cytology test will remain, however the fee will increase to $28.00 (up from $19.45).
  • To support the pathology sector, a new Liquid Based Cytology (LBC) MBS item will be added which will only be available until 30 November 2017.  
  • For each patient, a Medicare rebate will only be payable for one type of cytology based cervical screening test, whether the LBC test or a conventional cytology test.
  • The LBC test is no more effective than the conventional cytology test.
  • All health care professionals should follow the advice of their pathology provider as to whether to prepare conventional cytology slides or LBC slides.

From 1 December 2017

  •  New MBS items will be added to the schedule to support the renewed National Cervical Screening Program. The Commonwealth Department of Health will inform health care professionals about these changes closer to the time.

 New Clinical Management Guidelines

  • Until 30 November 2017, health care professionals should continue to be guided by the clinical management pathway as outlined in the 2005 Screening to Prevent Cervical Cancer: Guidelines for the Management of Asymptomatic Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.
  • You may have heard that the clinical management guidelines for the renewed cervical screening pathway have been released. The new guidelines are available for training and reference purposes only, and will not guide clinical practice until 1 December 2017. These are available at
  • More information about these guidelines will be available when new online education and training modules developed by the Department of Health are released later in 2017. These online training modules will help you understand and implement the 2016 Guidelines.

State and territory registers

The current state and territory registers will continue to support the National Cervical Screening Program by sending cervical reminder and follow up communication to eligible women. Medical practices are encouraged to continue issuing Pap test reminders and recalls to women as per their established procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions for health care professionals

The Commonwealth Department of Health has developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for health care professionals based on current interim arrangements. These FAQs will be updated regularly from now until 1 December 2017, so for up to date information please visit the Department’s website.

For more information about the renewed National Cervical Screening Program

Nationally consistent online training and resources for both health care professionals and consumers will be available closer to the implementation of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program.

For more information on the National Cervical Screening Program and the National Cancer Screening Register please go to

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world – around 17,000 people are diagnosed each year. Around 93% of Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 50 years old, and if found early 9 out of 10 cases of bowel cancer can be successfully treated.

To reduce deaths from bowel cancer, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends faecal occult blood testing (FOBT) at least every two years for people over the age of 50 who are at, or slightly above, average risk for bowel cancer (about 98% of the population).

Despite the strong evidence-base for regular bowel cancer screening, current participation in the NBCSP is low at 37%.

Research has consistently demonstrated that a recommendation from a GP to screen for bowel cancer using an FOBT is an important motivator for participation.

GP involvement is particularly important to encourage screening by under-screened groups, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse and low-socioeconomic backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. GPs are critical in managing participants with a positive FOBT and referring them for further examination as clinically indicated, such as for colonoscopy.

The FOBT is safe, non-invasive and easy to complete at home. In 2016, people aged 50, 55, 60, 64, 65, 70, 72 and 74 years will be invited to screen. We encourage GPs to talk to their patients about the benefits of bowel cancer screening.

What can general practices do to support participation?

  • Display brochures, flyers and posters in your practice – Order Resources
  • Send a letter to your 49 year old patients – Download a template letter to encourage your 49 year old patients to do the test when they receive it around their 50th
  • Talk to patients aged 50-74 years about bowel cancer screening – Download Clinical Resources
  • Know the Program – this series of short videos provides GPs an overview of the NBCSP covering the following topics: What is screening, Classification of risk, Referral to colonoscopy and Case studies

For more information, including an eligibility tool where you can find out when an individual will receive a kit by entering their birthdate visit:

Read the full eNewsletter article – General Practice encouraging participation – August 2016

Read the full NBCSP Article – The evidence base

On behalf the Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium, please find a selection of posters/screensavers for use on your internal computers during the appropriate week: volunteering-is-posters-NVW2017 and palliative care week.

Please note that the Volunteer Weeks file contains four different posters so you can decide if you would like to use one or all of them. If you or your IT department has any questions please feel free to contact Melissa Spargo, Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consortium by phone 03 – 5623 0684 or email (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday only.)


SAEFVIC Adverse Events Reporting

Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Vaccination In the Community (SAEFVIC) is the central reporting service in Victoria for any significant adverse events following immunisations (AEFI). SAEFVIC Adverse Events provide expert immunisation safety advice to reporters and health-care workers, and provide clinical services for children and adults who have experienced AEFI. All significant events also have de-identified details forwarded to the federal ADRS system.


Australian Immunisation Register – into the future

The development of an Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) to cover all ages is to be implemented in stages from 2016. You are invited to a one-day workshop on 26 August 2016 in Sydney to discuss the functionality of an AIR to best support the National Immunisation Program and related activities. For further information contact

SmartVax monitors vaccine safety in real time

SmartVax is an app which uses SMS and smartphone technology. The app extracts immunisation data from practice software and sends a series of SMS messages inquiring if patients have experienced an adverse event. Yes responses receive an SMS link to an online survey that takes less than two minutes to complete.

Can the VaxOnTime app find you?

The VaxOnTime app uses the National Health Services Directory to locate immunisation providers for users. If your service is not listed on the National Health Services Directory, or your listing does not include immunisation as a service, then parents will not be able to find you through the app.

Lung Foundation Australia in collaboration with the Queensland Government’s Indigenous Respiratory Outreach Care Program have developed the first ever Australia-wide Lung Health Checklist specifically for the Indigenous community.

It only takes a few minutes, and the eight simple questions will help to recognise symptoms and risks of lung disease and the need to act promptly. The Indigenous Lung Health Checklist is narrated by the Lung Foundation’s Ambassador and Olympic Legend Cathy Freeman so it is broadly accessible to all communities.

This checklist will help tackle the vital issue of improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ lung health, with Indigenous peoples almost twice as likely to die from a lung-related condition than non-Indigenous Australians.

Help us to address the endemic challenge of promoting good lung health in the Indigenous community. Lung Foundation Australia encourages everyone to take the Indigenous Lung Health Checklist at

For more information or printed copies of the Indigenous Lung Health Checklist phone Lung Foundation Australia on freecall 1800 654 301 or email

What are the Optimal Care Pathways (OCPs)?

Optimal Care Pathways are national guides that describe the best possible cancer care for patients with specific tumour types.  The OCPs have been developed by clinical experts in collaboration with peak health organisations, consumers and carers. They are endorsed by the National Cancer Expert Reference Group, Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Australia.

The primary purpose of the OCPs is to improve patient outcomes by facilitating consistent, safe, high quality and evidence-based care across Australia.

Detailed clinical pathways, as well as quick reference guides for GPs and patient guides, have been developed for 15 tumour types.

Each pathway describes the key stages in a patient’s cancer journey, from prevention and identification through to survivorship or end-of-life care, and expected optimal care at each stage. The aim is to ensure that all people diagnosed with cancer get the best care, regardless of where they live or receive treatment.

OCP Resources:

What does this mean for Gippsland?

The adoption of OCPs is being supported in all Australian states and territories.  Gippsland PHN is working in collaboration with the five other Victorian Primary Health Networks, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Regional Integrated Cancer Services network to support the implementation of the OCPs with general practitioners, cancer services, specialists and other health professionals across our region.

The first two priority areas identified by DHHS for the PHNs to focus on were colorectal (bowel) and lung cancer.  In 2017, Gippsland PHN worked with Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Care Services (GRICS) to enable these OCPs to be embedded into standard practice across all services to improve the patient cancer care experience.

In 2018, the priority areas identified are prostate cancer and oesophagogastric cancer. This year, GPHN will be undertaking work to support the critical role of GPs in the adoption of the prostate cancer and oesophagogastric cancer OCPs including: 

  • Building general practitioner awareness, knowledge and use of cancer OCPs
  • Improving collaboration between GPs, cancer specialists and health professionals working in the acute sector
  • Driving better practice cancer care through the adoption of the OCPs
  • Identifying areas for service improvement.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in men in Australia. The five-year survival rate is very high at 94%, however late presentation continues to affect patient outcomes with a significant sub-group of patients reporting high psychological distress, sexual dysfunction and unmet supportive care needs. Greater general practice education and awareness of symptoms, PSA testing, diagnosis, referral pathways and supportive care needs has the potential to significantly improve the experience for patients.

OCP resources for men with prostate cancer: 

Detailed clinical pathway:

Quick reference guide for GPs:

Patient ‘what to expect’ guide:

Oesophagogastric Cancer

Oesophagogastric cancers have a low incidence and poor prognosis, with five-year survival rates ranging from 20 to 30%. There is an important role for GPs in delivering preventative health messages on smoking cessation and moderation of alcohol intake; awareness of risk factors and symptoms for earlier diagnosis; correct referral to appropriate specialists; and monitoring and supporting patients through treatment, which is usually palliative rather than curative in intent.

OCP oesophagogastric cancer resources:

Detailed clinical pathway:

Quick reference guide for GPs:

Patient ‘what to expect’ guide:\

OCP HealthPathways:

HealthPathways Gippsland is a free online portal, designed to be used by general practice at the point of care. HealthPathways aims to guide best-practice assessment and management of common medical conditions, including when and where to refer patients. It is also available to medical specialists, nurses, allied health and other health professionals, for use within their scope of practice within the Gippsland region.  HealthPathways have been designed as a tool to assist GPs to connect patients to the right care, at the right place and with the right healthcare provider.  The pathways are written by GP Clinical Editors in collaboration with specialists and other GPs.

Last year, pathways for lung and colorectal (bowel) cancer were developed and currently we are working on pathways for prostate and oesophagogastric cancer.  In addition to the clinical pathways, localised referral pages are also developed.  These pathways will assist in improving patient outcomes and address system level challenges when providing care to cancer patients in the Gippsland region.

How do I access HealthPathways?

To access the HealthPathways Gippsland, click on the link: HealthPathways Gippsland and log on using your Username and Password.  Click on the ‘Request Access’ button if you are not already registered.

A great opportunity for staff working with any patients that may require palliative care or the palliative approach to care  in the inpatient,  community, RACF or a day chemo unit setting, GP clinic.

The Centre for Palliative Care provide PEPA funding to GPs, Doctors, Nurses Div 1, ENs, Allied Health  to attend between 2-5 days of free experiential placement in a tertiary palliative care centre and community palliative care setting.

PEPA funding  is provided by the Federal Government managed by the CPC to build capacity in palliative care services in Victoria.

Some services have taken up the prospect and have sent  their whole team through the PEPA program (over a period of time).

Placements would most likely be at Monash, MCCulloch House and Peninsula Palliative Care because these are the aligned services through the LRH Gippsland Region Palliative Care Consultancy Service.

The model/approach is flexible to suit part time work  and  the placements can be done in 2 day blocks e.g. 2 days Inpatients break ; then in the community based palliative care service.

The main criteria is that applicants are not a specialist palliative care practitioner.

Allowances include $250 per day backfill payment per person; payment for accommodation; $90 meal allowance; and travelling expenses reimbursed; plus it is free education..

It’s a really great opportunity to provide staff with some practical experience to build capacity in service and be paid for it at the same time.

education information flyer

Ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients feel culturally safe and receive culturally responsive care is a key responsibility of every health care provider.

Guided by an expert advisory group comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people representing various organisations within the health sector across Australia, CareSearch has created online resources that will help build a path of cultural capability and understanding for supporting care with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Care pages include information for providing culturally appropriate care for all health care providers, the Aboriginal health workforce, and the wider health workforce; share information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, their families and communities; and provide information on finding relevant research and evidence. There is a strong emphasis on the person’s care journey and how members of the health care workforce join their journey along the way.

Click here to access the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Care webpages.

Acknowledgements: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group, PEPA & PCC4U (The Collaborative), Leigh Harris, Igneous Studios

The Heart Foundation (Victoria) with the support of Gippsland PHN is undertaking a Nurse Ambassador program. The program will provide an opportunity for primary health care nurses in the Gippsland region to take leadership in improving the assessment and management of absolute cardiovascular disease risk in general practice.

Who is eligible

Passionate primary health care nurses interested in:

Receiving high quality, evidence based cardiovascular disease risk professional development

Attaining leadership opportunities to initiate quality improvement processes that lead to better patient care and sustainable practice systems change, with the support of their workplace

Developing a practice team approach for early detection and prevention of cardiovascular disease risk

Creating professional relationships and networks.

What’s involved 

  • Ability to attend all three (3) professional development (full day) workshops to be held in Gippsland
  • Undertake and report on an evidence based Workplace activity during the project on the topic of CVD risk
  • Incentive payment to the practice of $2,500 (GST exclusive) to assist with cost recovery of project participation such as time away from the practice and data collection
  • Nurses and their general practice will be supported by Heart Foundation and Gippsland PHN staff to implement and measure change.

All expressions of interest must be received by 20 September 2017

To apply, please complete the application form (PDF) and email to  

For further information about the program or workshops please contact (03) 9321 1530. Download the information flyer.

Please note places are limited

The Victorian End-of-Life Care Coordinating Program (VEC) has released an evidence based multidisciplinary integrated care plan – Care Plan for the Dying Person- Victoria (CPDP-Vic). The CPDP-Vic is a Department of Health and Human Services (department) funded and Palliative Care Clinical Network initiative aimed at supporting health services to provide best practice, person-centred care during the last days and hours of life irrespective of a patient’s diagnosis and palliative care service involvement.

The department encourages, but does not mandate, Victorian health services to adopt the CPDPVic.

Implementation of the CPDP-Vic, when supported by organisational governance and underpinned by robust education and training, will assist healthcare teams to provide consistent, high quality care to dying Victorians and their families as advocated in the Victorian Government’s 2016 End of Life and Palliative Care Framework document.1

VEC has also developed other resources designed primarily to assist medical, nursing and allied health professionals to deliver the best possible end-of-life care to people recognised and accepted to be imminently dying in Victorian hospitals. Careful consideration has been made to clinical and legal practices unique to the State of Victoria, including language and terminology.

The resources are available at this purpose-built website

Endorsed by the International Collaborative for Best Care for the Dying Person2 the CPDP-Vic will assist health services to align with:

  •  National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 9 Recognising and Responding to Clinical Deterioration in Acute Health care
  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s Essential Elements for Safe and High-Quality End-of-Life Care (Consensus Statement)
  • Australian Council on Healthcare Standards EQuIP 5; and
  • National Palliative Care Strategy 2010, Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End-of-Life.

For further information please contact Fiona Israel, Program Manager, VEC on 9231 5658 or

Supportive care refers to services required by those affected or impacted by cancer. It includes among other things information provision, symptom control, self-help and social support, psychological and spiritual support, rehabilitation, palliative care and bereavement care. Supportive care activities in cancer can be broadly defined by the following five categories:

  • Physical needs
  • Psychological needs
  • Social needsInformation needs
  • Spiritual needs.

Supportive care can be optimised through routine screening and follow-on referrals to appropriate treatment and care services. Members of the multidisciplinary team as well as family members, friends, support groups, volunteers and other community-based organisations can all play an important role in a cancer patients’ supportive care. 
supportive care

For further information refer to the GRICS website or contact Danielle Roscoe, GRICS: or phone 03 5128 0062

Latrobe Regional Hospital now provides telehealth consultations for patients who are referred to their paediatric, endocrinology (diabetic patients) or physician (chronic heart failure) specialist outpatient clinics.

The primary objective of the Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) Telehealth project is to improve access to specialist outpatient clinics at LRH and improve the utilisation and efficiency of these clinics by reducing the number of patients who fail to attend appointments. This will be achieved through the provision of telehealth consultations, either hosted by eligible local GP clinics or within the patient’s own home using an existing and well-developed model of care.

Eligible patients include those who are:

  • Accepting of the telehealth model of care
  • Attending a ‘review’ appointment
  • Reside at least 15 km by road from Latrobe Regional Hospital
  • Are identified as appropriate for a telehealth consultation by the treating specialist

The exception to the above is a patient attending an Aboriginal Medical Service. In this case, the >15km minimum distance criteria does not apply.

A general practitioner or another health professional with a Medicare provider number can also be with the patient during the specialist telehealth consultation to provide clinical support. This is called a supported consultation.

GP clinics that are geographically located >15km by road to Latrobe Regional Hospital.

Read more about LRH Telehealth

Download the LRH Telehealth project Toolkit for GPs and Clinicians.

For more information, please contact Barb Radley, Latrobe Regional Hospital Telehealth Facilitator during business hours on 5173 8022 or

The office of the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) has now replaced the office of the Health Services Commissioner. This is the culmination of many years work reviewing Victoria’s health complaints framework and developing new legislation, the Health Complaints Act 2016 (Vic), to meet the challenges presented by modern healthcare.

While the core work of resolving complaints about health services and the handling of health information in Victoria remains the same, there are several important changes of which you should be aware. The new legislation includes a much broader definition of a ‘health service’, partly describing it as an activity performed “to assess, predict, maintain or improve the person’s physical, mental or psychological health or status”.

This means the HCC has jurisdiction over a wide range of non-registered providers that they were previously unable to deal with.  In addition, anyone will be able to complain, not just consumers themselves. The new legislation includes a Code of Conduct for non-registered practitioners or those practising outside their area of registration. This provides a minimum standard that non-registered practitioners will be required to meet, as well as grounds for complaints or investigations.  

Any interim or permanent prohibition orders issued with these investigations will be mutually recognised between Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.  

A copy of the Code of Conduct, as well as information about how to make a complaint to the HCC, must be made available to clients of the health service. The new Act envisages a much greater capacity to investigate matters where there is a risk to the health, safety or welfare of individuals or the public. The HCC will conduct follow up investigations into undertakings made by health services within the formal resolution process, the Minister will be able to refer matters for investigation and the Commissioner will be able to conduct own motion investigations, following advice from the President of the HCC Advisory Council.

The new legislation sets out complaints handling standards to which all health services must comply. The interim standards included in the Act will be replaced by a new set to be developed by the HCC, in consultation with health providers and consumers, over the next two years. There are new information sharing arrangements with AHPRA and the Department of Health & Human Services.

HCC are also working closely with Safer Care Victoria and a new health information agency in DHHS to further the quality and safety agenda. HCC are committed to an independent and impartial approach to complaints resolution in support of safe and ethical healthcare.  HCC  trust you will join us in this important work.

What should health providers do now?

  1. Familiarise yourself with the Complaint Handling Standards that now apply to all Victorian health service providers.
  2. Update your practice with the Code of Conduct that now applies to Victorian general health service providers.
  3. Update the complaints section of their website with this text, or similar:

If you are not satisfied with our service, please contact us. We take complaints seriously and aim to resolve them quickly and fairly.

If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may contact the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC). The HCC responds to complaints about health services and the handling of health information in Victoria. Their service is free, confidential and impartial. To lodge a complaint with the HCC:

Fill out a complaint form online at or

Phone 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday to discuss your complaint.

  1.        Download and utilise the HCC information materials available:

Download a copy of the Code of Conduct: In brief (A4)

Download a copy of the Code of Conduct: Full text (A3)

Download ‘Expect safe and ethical healthcare’ poster (A3)

Request ‘Making a complaint’ brochure (DL)

Request ‘My health records, my rights’ brochure (DL)

  1.        Check out the free education seminars offered by the HCC.
  2.        Share this information with everyone in your practice and with your clients.

Funded by beyondblue and the Movember Foundation, the initiative is a partnership between the National Centre for Farmer Health, Deakin University, Victorian Farmers’ Federation, AgChatOz, Sandpit, Western District Health Service and Mental Illness Fellowship North Queensland.

The Ripple effect is an online intervention designed to investigate what works to reduce the self-stigma and perceived stigma among males from the farming community, aged 30-64 who have been bereaved by suicide, attempted suicide, cared for someone who attempted suicide, have thoughts of suicide, or have been touched bu suicide in some other way.

The intervention provides:

  • the opportunity to anonymously share experiences in a peer-supported environment.
  • the opportunity to increase knowledge and literacy about the experience of suicide (by challenging suicide myths and framing experience in a contextual way, and facilitating help seeking where required).
  • the encouragement for a positive cycle by which the disruption of the negative feedback of self-stigma and perceived-stigma will also reduce stigma in others.

To access the Ripple Effect website, click here


From 30 November 2016, the Australian Government has been providing access to a free blood test for Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) for people who live or work, or who have lived or worked, in the Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, QLD, Investigation Areas and who have potentially been exposed to PFAS.

Because patients are still eligible for this program if they have previously lived and/or worked in Williamtown or Oakey, it is essential that GPs across Australia are aware of the program and where to find more information if/when required. Ensuring that all GPs are aware of the program will prevent delays in accessing blood testing, as well as reducing the number of repeat visits, by patients who may already be suffering stress and anxiety in relation to PFAS contamination.

In order to support this program and ensure that consumers and GPs Australia wide have access to relevant information, the Department of Health has developed a number of factsheets which are available on the website.

In addition to these publically available factsheets, please also find attached the current version of the GP factsheet, as well as the PFAS Pathology Test Request Form.

GPs and practices can contact if they have any questions with regard to this program.