Supporting GPs to respond to COVID-19
WA Primary Health Alliance, the AMA (WA) and RACGP WA are working to represent general practice as part of Western Australia’s response to COVID-19. WAPHA met on Wednesday 4 March with the Department of Health WA to articulate the important role that general practice plays and how we can work together to support the health system over the coming weeks and months. There was agreement to meet weekly around joint planning, engagement and support for general practice and primary care.
We are meeting today with the AMA (WA), RACGP WA, Rural Health West and St John Ambulance to address critical issues with respect to PPE and advice for general practice. Further advice will follow around the outcomes of our discussion.
We have also been asked to participate in a Primary Care COVID-19 preparedness meeting on Friday 5 March in Canberra, chaired by the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy.
We understand the need to ensure the safest possible environment for the primary care workforce – your health and wellbeing is our priority.
Please be assured we are working collaboratively with the Australian Government Department of Health, AMA (WA), RACGP WA, Rural Health West, St John Ambulance and The Department of Health WA to support the work of general practice.
Is your practice prepared for COVID-19?
Below are some practical considerations to help you prepare your practice:
- Consider what signage you want to display on the door advising patients how you would like them to proceed if they suspect they are at risk of COVID-19. Visit HealthPathways WA for links to resources for GPs
- Make sure your workplace is clean and hygienic. Clear unessential objects, like magazines, from surfaces (reception desk, desks and tables)
- Provide sanitising hand rub in prominent places around the practice
- Display posters promoting handwashing
- Identify a room you can use should you need to isolate a suspected case
- Check your stock of cleaning products and clarify the procedure for cleaning the room after use
- Review your practice cleaning schedule and add in regular cleaning of door handles
- Brief all practice staff on your preferred management of cases and messaging for patients
- Have a return to work plan for staff, if they are travelling overseas. This could include them making contact before they return to work for the latest advice.
- Visit HealthPathways WA for links to the latest Department of Health WA, Australian Government Department of Health and World Health Organization advice
- Identify your closest PathWest testing site, if you don’t have the necessary PPE to test patients
- Start to consider contingency and business continuity plans, in the event of an outbreak in your community
- Ensure practice staff know how to don and doff appropriate PPE. This RACGP poster may be helpful.
Latest WA Health update
Read the most up to date Clinical Alert #11 General Practitioners. Monday 2 March 2020
Mask usage and distribution update
Given the ongoing national shortage of masks, please ensure you and your colleagues are aware of the information below.
These are intended for single use by health professionals and patients, only when dealing with patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of Coronavirus. They are not intended for wider use, such as in waiting rooms, or to be given to other patients.
Complete this online form to apply for a stock of masks and allow us to assess your request.
These must only be used when medically managing a patient with severe pneumonia meeting the case definition for COVID-19, while awaiting transport to hospital, with one mask worn by the treating GP/ health professional, and the other by the patient.
Given the extremely limited supply, each practice can only be supplied with two N95 masks, if they have a stock level of less than 10 masks.
Complete this General Practice Confirmation of N95 mask Requirement online form, even if you don’t need or want to receive masks, to ensure we have an accurate record of requests.
We will then advise you of your allocation and confirm the method of distribution. If we do not hear from you by 20 March, we will assume you do not require N95 masks.
If you deplete your stock by having to medically manage a patient with severe pneumonia meeting the case definition, you can request a further allocation.
Complete this N95 mask reorder online form and your request will be considered from 25 March onwards, if stocks have not already been exhausted.
Department of Health WA has regularly updated information for health professionals which is available here https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus