Gippsland PHN supports general practices and commissioned services

Gippsland PHN has continued to seek information from general practices and commissioned services across bushfire affected areas over the last week.

We are keen to know how we can best support these services at this time, how services have been impacted by the fires, is service delivery continuing as usual and does your service require any additional support.

It is important for us to gather this information from general practices and commissioned services as our role is to work closely with government agencies to ensure information related to general practice and other primary care services is collated and shared to assist the State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP) and contingency plans being managed by other agencies.

DHHS provides funding to all Victorian Primary Health Networks to assist with a primary health response during an emergency.

The role of Gippsland PHN is to assist with a primary health emergency response by:

  • participating in local, regional and health service emergency planning;
  • in the event of an emergency:
    • facilitate access to primary care providers who are only mobilised upon direction from DHHS;
    • establish and facilitate communications with the primary care sector;
    • provide intelligence on local factors affecting the delivery of primary healthcare in affected areas;
    • work collaboratively with DHHS in the provision of recovery services following an emergency.

Gippsland PHN has formal arrangements with participating general practices who have indicated how their service and staff will assist in emergencies including increasing access to services.

The State Health Emergency Response Plan describes the arrangements for the management of health emergencies in Victoria. 

The plan describes an integrated approach and shared responsibility for health emergency management between DHHS, Ambulance Victoria, the emergency management sector, the health system and the community

DHHS and Ambulance Victoria work together as the key government agencies that lead a health emergency response. Hospitals, both public and private, also play a critical role in response to health emergencies. Depending on the nature of an emergency, a broader range of health service providers and experts may also be involved to achieve the best possible health outcomes for affected community members. For example, emergencies of longer duration or widely dispersed in nature, may require additional response capacity and capability and this may involve first aid agencies, general practitioners (GPs), community pharmacists, and field emergency medical officers or coordinators.

Ambulance Victoria deploy Health Commanders to direct the operational health response including requests for pre-hospital emergency care, triage patients, determine treatment priority and provide pre-hospital clinical care and manage additional medical and nursing capacity, such as Field Emergency Medical Officers (FEMOs) and Victorian Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT)

Municipal councils are responsible for coordinating recovery at the local level for affected individuals and communities. Municipal councils work with local partners to determine local arrangements to manage relief and recovery activities. The provision of personal support and psychosocial support is part of relief arrangements. And commissioned through organisations like the Victorian Council of Churches – Emergency Ministry (VCC-EM) or Australian Red Cross.

The provision of primary care nursing and medical services is beyond the scope of what is provided as part of relief centre arrangements unless enacted though the SHERP.

Gippsland PHN will contact general practices and other primary health services in East Gippsland, Wellington and Latrobe City on weekdays during the immediate emergency period. Alternatively, general practice and commissioned services can contact Gippsland PHN to share any information or for additional support.