October 2021 Volume 7 Issue 10

View the full newsletter here

Message from the Chair - Dr Simon Lockwood

It can feel a little frightening as a remote rural GP with the approach of our borders opening in South Australia on 23 November.

Like many of you, I worry that COVID-19 will sneak into our communities with the potential to impact the way that we practice in primary care, as well as impact on our local hospitals. For those of us that provide support to local hospitals there is the fear of prolonged times to retrieval of critically ill patients, and overwhelming of local hospital capacity.

In my days as a medical student some time ago I was taught the Five ‘Ps’ at medical school

Piss Poor Planning leads to Poor Performance.

So, what are we, at Country SA PHN, doing to prepare?

As a PHN we can't do much about the approach of our local hospital. We trust that they will put the appropriate measures in place. Our focus, as a primary health network, is on how we can assist primary care. We are working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders at a Federal and State level to ensure that country SA primary health care providers will be fully prepared when SA re-opens domestic borders, eases restrictions and we adapt to ‘living with COVID-19’.

This preparation includes representing primary care providers in country SA on:

  •  the Primary Care Taskforce
  •  the Rural Health System Preparedness Roundtable
  •  the SA Living with COVID19 Mental Health Support
  • ensuring solutions are found for COVID19 vaccination of our most vulnerable populations
  • continuing to support COVID19 vaccination providers rurally
  • providing PPE to primary care
  • developing clinical pathways to help guide primary care in how to care for COVID19 positive patients in our communities and in the home by commissioning the development of these guidelines through the HealthPathways project.

For those not registered for HealthPathways I implore you to do so for a range of COVID-19 links and guidelines.

An important element in Country SA PHN’s participation, is planning for the sustainability of general practice as a critical element of the primary health infrastructure of small rural communities.

What are you doing in your daily work to prepare?

Ultimately every service provider needs to look critically at their preparedness and review their pandemic plans and ensure they are ready. For those of you who have not taken the opportunity to look at your emergency planning for some time, we are providing funding for general practices to access an Emergency Response Planning Tool (ERPT) which can be useful in preparation.

The Tool is an up-to-date cloud-based plan, developed in collaboration with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. It provides practices with individually tailored information to appropriately prepare for, respond to and recover from, the impacts of emergencies and pandemics in your community – ensuring your staff safety, reducing the risk of financial loss and assisting with the smooth recovery of your practice.

Our overall role in this preparation and planning ensures the country voice is heard and that the unique challenges facing you, our rural and remote primary health care providers and your communities, are met as we move into this next phase of the pandemic. 

We are here to support you. We welcome your feedback. Please contact us if you have suggestions as to how we can offer further assistance. We will keep you posted.

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