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LATEST Information Alert

24 September - For GPs, general practice and health professionals

  • Telehealth extended - MBS telehealth items guide
  • Do you have patients in an aged care facility? Tip Sheet for GPs working in RACFs
  • NEW – Queensland/NSW border zone set to expand
  • Border changes as of 3:00pm 23 September 2020
  • REMINDER – ACT border restrictions to be lifted

24 September - For GPs and general practice

Telehealth extended - MBS telehealth items guide

Commencing 13 March 2020 and extending until 31 March 2021, temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers.

The temporary MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, participating midwives, allied health providers and dental practitioners in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery.

A service may only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.

The new temporary MBS telehealth items are for out-of-hospital patients.

It is a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMPs) working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an established clinical relationship with the patient. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.

GP and OMP COVID-19 telehealth services are eligible for MBS incentive payments when provided as bulk billed services to Commonwealth concession card holders and children under 16 years of age.

All providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to charging private fees for COVID-19 telehealth services.

The temporary GP and OMP bulk billing incentive items for patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and the temporary doubling of all Medicare bulk-billing incentive fees ceased as of 1 October 2020.

For all the fact sheets please click here.

Do you have patients in an aged care facility? Tip Sheet for GPs working in RACFs

Click here to view the GPs working in RACFs Tip Sheet

This tip sheet has been adapted from North Western Melbourne PHN. It incorporates the expertise of a range of stakeholders including Professor Michael Murray, the head of the Australian Government’s Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and our new Aged Care Expert Advisory Group chaired by Dr Jagdeesh Singh Dhaliwal.

It outlines best practice guidance and learnings from the Victorian experience with COVID-19 for consideration in your own planning.

NEW – Queensland/NSW border zone set to expand

From 1 am on Thursday 1 October 2020, Queensland’s border zone will expand to include Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glenn Innes council areas. Border residents will be able to apply for a border pass and travel around Queensland for any purpose, and Queenslanders can travel to those places as well.

Border changes as of 3:00pm 23 September 2020

The following parts of the Direction will come into effect to:

  • give effect to the Queensland Freight Protocol
  • allow people to enter Queensland to fulfil informal shared parenting and child contact arrangements
  • allow New South Wales border zone residents to travel anywhere in Queensland for informal shared parenting arrangements, without quarantining. Similarly, Queensland residents can travel to the New South Wales border zone for this purpose and re-enter Queensland without quarantining
  • introduce a new ‘H’ category for the border declaration pass for people coming to Queensland for day health appointments
  • make the use of the approved Queensland Health approved essential health care form (DOCX) mandatory for private health practitioners providing health care to people entering Queensland from hotspots.
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Telehealth MBS Item Numbers

Whole of population telehealth now available

On 29 March 2020, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, announced: Whole of population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services to support the response to COVID-19. Find the full item descriptor(s) and information on other changes to the MBS on the MBS online summary webpage.

MBS Item Numbers as of 30 March 2020

> All Medicare eligible Australians can now access services via telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.

> The new temporary MBS telehealth items must be bulk billed and are for non-admitted patients.

> The bulk billing incentive Medicare fees will double for items relating to general practice, diagnostic imaging and pathology services.

> Medicare rebates paid for the new GP and medical practitioner telehealth services are at the same level as the rebates paid for the equivalent face-to-face services.

> General Practice telehealth/telephone item numbers now available for :

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments
  • Chronic disease management plans and reviews
  • Mental health including mental health care plans and reviews
  • Eating disorder management
  • Pregnancy support
  • Autism management
  • Urgent after hours unsociable

> For more information and a list of the new MBS items, please read the COVID-19 Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services - GPs and Other Medical Practitioners factsheet and other relevant factsheets here.

> Find the full item descriptor(s) and information on other changes to the MBS on the MBS online summary webpage.

> Please email COVIDResponse@health.gov.au if you have a query relating to the COVID-19 telehealth MBS items.

healthdirect Australia Video Call

Our PHN offers free access to the healthdirect Australia Video Call platform for GPs and health care providers to use in our region. The platform allows you to deliver care to your patients via video consultation. Benefits of the Video Call platform include:

  • it's easy to use for consumers, web-based, requires no software download, uses low bandwidth and meets Medicare security requirements; and
  • the PHN can set your practice up with login details and offer training.

View a recent webinar about the capability of the healthdirect Australia Video Call platform.

Contact practicesupport@ddwmphn.com.au to learn more and get connected.

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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks

In response to the 2019 COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of Health has now supplied Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN with an allocation of N95 masks and surgical masks.

N95 masks for specimen collection

These masks are for use by GPs who are specifically willing and able to undertake specimen collection in their practice as per the Department of Health advice. General practices should consider the below criteria before requesting N95 masks:

  • the physical layout of your practice and whether it is suitable for isolation of patients presenting as a suspect case (including any post testing requirements);
  • whether you have access to all the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), not just masks; and
  • your confidence in infection control procedures across your whole practice.

Please note there are several pathology collection centres across the Darling Downs and West Moreton region who can collect specimens for testing.

Surgical masks are available

The Department of Health has made available a limited supply of surgical masks for general practice staff and people who may have had contact with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). For general practices located in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region, these masks will be distributed via our PHN.

Before requesting masks please consider:

  • Is there a local supply available commercially?
  • Does your practice have a population which is more likely to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus?
  • Does your practice have an unusual number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms?

If you have an identified need for surgical masks at your practice, please contact our Primary Care Liaison team via email practicesupport@ddwmphn.com.au

Please include the quantity of masks that you would like to receive for consideration. We will only be releasing up to 100 masks per practice at this time due to limited supply.

Important Delivery Information

Please note:

  • We are currently processing all of the requests in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines.
  • Once processed, we will be distributing masks via courier only.
  • Due to the heavy demand on the courier services, can we please ask that you order your masks before you are completely out of stock.
  • Courier delivery can take between 1-3 days for local delivery from Springfield (possibly longer for rural areas) due to the current environment.
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Fever and GP Respiratory Clinics

Fever Clinics

Fever Clinic - Baillie Henderson Hospital - Toowoomba

LOCATION:
Baillie Henderson Hospital, entrance via Burnview avenue off Mort street

OPEN TIMES:
9:00am - 4:00pm - Seven (7) days a week
NO APPOINTMENT OR REFERRAL IS REQUIRED. This is a drive up clinic. Patients will be seen in order of arrival.

TARGET GROUP:
Only patients with mild to moderate symptoms who meet the current criteria outlined in the latest Public Health Alert. Please note: If your practice has capacity and the equipment/personal protective equipment (PPE) to assess and test patients who meet the criteria at your practice or via telehealth and referral to a private laboratory, please continue to do so.

PROCEDURE:
Patients can access the fever clinic through the Mort St entrance at Baillie Henderson Hospital. A sign will advise patients to STOP and phone the clinic. Patients can beep their car horn if they don't have access to a mobile phone. Patients will be triaged over the phone. Testing and/or clinical assessment will then occur via a doctor if needed. QAS will be called if any patients present severely unwell with breathing difficulty. The clinic is not equipped to manage severely ill patients.

MANAGING SEVERELY ILL PATIENTS:
If you or your staff assess a patient either in person or through telehealth to be severely unwell with breathing difficulties, call QAS for the patient as required.

Call the Toowoomba Base Hospital Emergency Department to let them know you have a severely unwell patient with breathing difficulty and suspected COVID-19. Due to the volume of calls being received, ensure you:

  • state your name and role;
  • state that you have a severely unwell patient with breathing difficulty and suspected COVID 19;
  • state patient observations or other symptoms/signs of severe concern. The consultant can then advise you on how to proceed.

Fever Clinic - Ipswich Hospital - Ipswich

Our hotlines are staffed by registered nurses who can answer questions about symptoms and testing criteria.

LOCATION:
Jubilee Building, downhill from Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department entrance

OPEN TIMES:
Open: 9:00am to 4:30pm seven (7) days a week - this is a drop-in clinic, no appointment required

TARGET GROUP:
Only patients with mild to moderate symptoms who meet the current criteria outlined in the latest Public Health Alert will be tested. Please note: If your practice has the capacity, the equipment, the pathology referrals and the personal protective equipment (PPE) to assess and test patients who meet the criteria, please continue to do so either at your practice or via telehealth.

PROCEDURE:
Patients or their GPs should phone ahead on one of the dedicated phone hotlines to discuss symptoms and testing criteria before the patient presents at the hospital. If testing is recommended, the hotline nurse will provide instructions.

OUT OF HOURS:
Outside the clinics’ hours of operation, patients who meet the testing criteria should present to their closest emergency department for testing.

IN AN EMERGENCY:
If your patient is very unwell and has breathing difficulties, call Triple Zero (000) and advise the Queensland Ambulance Service that the patient they are transporting to Ipswich Hospital may have COVID-19.

Next, call the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department triage nurse on 07 3810 1227 to let them know you have a severely unwell patient on the way to ED who may have COVID-19.

Ensure you state:

  • your name and role
  • patient observations and symptoms of concern.

The triage nurse will advise you on how to proceed.

Fever Clinic - Gatton Hospital - Gatton

Please tell patients to call the relevant hotline before presenting to the clinic in person.

Our hotlines are staffed by registered nurses who can answer questions about symptoms and testing criteria.

LOCATION:
Gatton Hospital, 97/103 William St, Gatton

OPEN TIMES:
Open: 8:00am to 8:00pm, seven days a week by appointment - phone ahead on hotline

TARGET GROUP:
Only patients with mild to moderate symptoms who meet the current criteria outlined in the latest Public Health Alert will be tested. Please note: If your practice has the capacity, the equipment, the pathology referrals and the personal protective equipment (PPE) to assess and test patients who meet the criteria, please continue to do so either at your practice or via telehealth.

PROCEDURE:
Patients or their GPs should phone ahead on one of the dedicated phone hotlines to discuss symptoms and testing criteria before the patient presents at the hospital. If testing is recommended, the hotline nurse will provide instructions.

OUT OF HOURS:
Outside the clinics’ hours of operation, patients who meet the testing criteria should present to their closest emergency department for testing.

IN AN EMERGENCY:
If your patient is very unwell and has breathing difficulties, call Triple Zero (000) and advise the Queensland Ambulance Service that the patient they are transporting to Ipswich Hospital may have COVID-19.

Next, call the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department triage nurse on 07 3810 1227 to let them know you have a severely unwell patient on the way to ED who may have COVID-19.

Ensure you state:

  • your name and role
  • patient observations and symptoms of concern.

The triage nurse will advise you on how to proceed.

Rural locations

For clinics/hospitals in rural locations, please refer to your relevant HealthPathways COVID-19 Assessment and Management page and view 'COVID-19 Referrals'.

GP Respiratory Clinics

Standard operating hours (including the days of operation) can be extended in line with demand. Patients need to call the clinics to confirm availability of appointments. Patients MUST make an appointment before attending a respiratory clinic.

Greater Ipswich (Purga) - Flinders Peak GP Respiratory Clinic

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP respiratory clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

A GP Respiratory Clinic is now open at Flinders Peak Medical Centre in Purga (Greater Ipswich) to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

If your practice does not have access to appropriate PPE/isolation rooms to assess patients with respiratory symptoms or test for COVID-19 when indicated, you can now refer them to the Flinders Peak Medical Centre GP Respiratory Clinic.

The respiratory clinics are staffed by GPs and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics which have been established by the local hospital and health services.

Patients who present to the GP respiratory clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly, with results to be carbon copied to their usual GP.

If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.

If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff at Flinders Peak Medical Centre.

Depending on the symptoms of the patient, the patient will be referred back to their usual GP and/or provided with a management plan.

CLINIC DETAILS

Location: Flinders Peak Medical Centre, 355 Ipswich Boonah Rd, Purga QLD 4306
Operating hours by appointment: 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:30am to 12:00pm Saturday and Sunday.
Making a booking: Anyone wishing to be seen at the Respiratory Clinic needs to make an appointment. To make an appointment or for more information, call 07 5464 6765.

The standard operating hours listed above (including the days of operation) are being extended in line with demand. Patients can call the clinics to confirm availability of appointments. Patients MUST make an appointment before attending the respiratory clinics.

Ipswich - Health Matters Karalee

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP Respiratory Clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

A GP Respiratory Clinic is now open at Health Matters Karalee to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

If your practice does not have access to appropriate PPE/ isolation rooms to assess patients with respiratory symptoms or test for COVID 19 when indicated, you can now refer them to Health Matters Karalee GP Respiratory Clinic.

The Respiratory Clinics are staffed by GPs and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics which have been established by the local hospital and health services and are generally staffed by nurses to assess and test only patients meeting current COVID 19 testing criteria.

Patients who present to the GP Respiratory Clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly, with results to be carbon copied to their usual GP.

If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.

If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff at Health Matters Karalee.

Depending on the symptoms of the patient, the patient will be referred back to their usual GP and/or provided with a management plan.

CLINIC DETAILS

Location: 19 – 27 Junction Road, Chuwar
Operating hours by appointment: 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am to 12:00pm Saturday.
Making a booking: Anyone wishing to be seen at the Respiratory clinic needs to make an appointment. For bookings or more information phone 07 3812 3133 or book online or you can access https://hotdoc.com.au/ and search Ipswich Respiratory Clinic.

The standard operating hours listed above (including the days of operation) are being extended in line with demand. Patients can call the clinics to confirm availability of appointments. Patients MUST make an appointment before attending the respiratory clinics.

Greater Ipswich (Booval) - Kambu GP Respiratory Clinic

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP respiratory clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

A GP Respiratory Clinic is now open at Kambu - Booval in Greater Ipswich to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

The respiratory clinics are staffed by GPs and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics (generally staffed by nurses) which have been established by the local hospital and health services.

Patients who present to the GP respiratory clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly.

If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.

If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff Kambu Health.

CLINIC DETAILS

Location: Kambu - Booval, 3/160 Brisbane Road, Booval QLD 4304
Operating hours by appointment: 8:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Friday
Making a booking: Anyone wishing to be seen at the respiratory clinic needs to make an appointment. For bookings or more information phone 0408 699 432

The standard operating hours listed above (including the days of operation) are being extended in line with demand. Patients can call the clinics to confirm availability of appointments. Patients MUST make an appointment before attending the respiratory clinics.

Toowoomba - Carbal Medical Services GP Respiratory Clinic

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP respiratory clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

The Toowoomba (Carbal Medical Services) GP-led Respiratory Clinic is now open at 18-24 Charnley Street, Kearneys Spring to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

If your practice does not have access to appropriate PPE/isolation rooms to assess patients with respiratory symptoms or test for COVID-19 when indicated, you can now refer them to the respiratory clinic.

The respiratory clinics are staffed by GPs and nurses and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics which have been established by the local hospital and health services and are generally staffed by nurses to assess and test only patients meeting current COVID-19 testing criteria.

Patients who present to the GP respiratory clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly, with results to be carbon copied to their usual GP.

If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.

If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff at the respiratory clinic.

Depending on the symptoms of the patient, the patient will be referred back to their usual GP and/or provided with a management plan.

CLINIC DETAILS

Location:Toowoomba (Carbal Medical Services) Respiratory Clinic, 18-24 Charnley St, Kearneys Spring QLD 4350
Operating hours by appointment:8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday
Making a booking: Anyone wishing to be seen at the respiratory clinic needs to make an appointment. To make an appointment call 07 4580 1400 or book online via https://www.hotdoc.com.au/medical-centres/kearneys-spring-QLD-4350/toowoomba-carbal-respiratory-clinic/doctorsor you can access hotdoc.com.au and search Toowoomba Respiratory Clinic.

Toowoomba - James Neil Medical GP Respiratory Clinic

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP respiratory clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

The James Neil Medical GP-led Respiratory Clinic is now open to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

If your practice does not have access to appropriate PPE/isolation rooms to assess patients with respiratory symptoms or test for COVID-19 when indicated, you can now refer them to the James Neil Medical Respiratory Clinic.

The respiratory clinics are staffed by GPs and nurses and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics which have been established by the local hospital and health services and are generally staffed by nurses to assess and test only patients meeting current COVID-19 testing criteria.

Patients who present to the GP respiratory clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly, with results to be carbon copied to their usual GP.

If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.

If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff at James Neil Medical.

Depending on the symptoms of the patient, the patient will be referred back to their usual GP and/or provided with a management plan.

CLINIC DETAILS

Location: Corner of James & Neil Streets, 119 – 121 Neil St, Toowoomba QLD 4350
Operating hours by appointment: 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday.
Making a booking: Anyone wishing to be seen at the respiratory clinic needs to make an appointment. To make an appointment call 07 4632 4888.

Warwick - Condamine Medical Centre GP Respiratory Clinic

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP respiratory clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

A GP Respiratory Clinic is now open at Condamine Medical Centre in Warwick to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

If your practice does not have access to appropriate PPE/ isolation rooms to assess patients with respiratory symptoms or test for COVID 19 when indicated, you can now refer them to Condamine Medical Centre GP Respiratory Clinic.

The respiratory clinics are staffed by GPs and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics (generally staffed by nurses) which have been established by the local hospital and health services.

Patients who present to the GP respiratory clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly, with results to be carbon copied to their usual GP.

If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.

If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff at Condamine Medical Centre.

Depending on symptoms, the patient will be referred back to their usual GP.

CLINIC DETAILS

Location: 67 Guy St, Warwick QLD 4370
Operating hours by appointment: 9:00am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday and 9:00am to 11:30am Saturday.
Making a booking: Anyone wishing to be seen at the Respiratory clinic needs to make an appointment. For bookings or more information phone 07 4666 9666.

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Information and resources

Information for GPs and health care professionals

Support for GPs and general practices

Financial support measures for general practices

There is a variety of support measures in place for general practices affected by the impact of COVID-19. These include support measures recently announced by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government, tax relief initiatives via the Australian Taxation Office and support packages from Australian banks.

Click here to view available support.

Other support

During events such as the current coronavirus situation, additional pressure may be placed on GPs and practice staff as frontline workers through increased patient attendance to the practice, responding to fear and anxiety amidst the community and staying up to date as the situation evolves.

It is important during such times that GPs and practice staff take time to care for themselves and take the opportunity to debrief with colleagues.

If you require additional support, services are available, specifically developed for GPs.

  • RACGP: The GP Support Program - This is a free and confidential psychological support service available to all members. Call 1300 361 008 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
  • Queensland Doctors Health Program and Doctors Health Advisory Service - The QDHP provides independent, confidential, colleague-to-colleague support service to assist doctors and medical students.
  • AMA Anonymous Peer Support Line (Also available to non-members) - 1300 853 338
  • DRS4DRS - is an independent program providing confidential support and resources to doctors and medical students across Australia, by doctors. Confidential phone advice is available 24/7 for any doctor or medical student in Australia via each state/territory helpline and referral service. Call 07 3833 4352.
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
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Contacting your Public Health Unit

Please discuss any cases of concern with your local Public Health Unit immediately so that appropriate actions and testing can be organised.

GPs are advised to notify their relevant Public Health Units of 'suspect cases' of COVID-19.

Darling Downs Health

Please use this DDH Public Health Unit Notification Form.

P: 07 4699 8240 (business hours) P: 07 3646 1699 (after hours)

West Moreton Health

Please use this WMH Public Health Unit Notification Form.

P: 07 3818 4700 (business hours) P: 07 3176 2111 (after hours, ask for public health)

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Previous COVID-19 Alerts and Updates

Missed an alert? Access all of our COVID-19 alerts and updates below.

On this page you'll find:

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