Dr Roger Halliwell
Gold Coast Primary Health Network (GCPHN) Board Chair
As we head into another phase of the COVID-19 process there is a lot of discussion about the logistics of vaccination. When I talk to my colleagues across Australia it is clear that there are a lot of unanswered questions about the role of primary care in this space.
What we do know is that it will be a tiered process targeting the highest risk members of our community (occupationally and vulnerability-based criteria). And that the roll out will be closely managed by the Commonwealth with very specific “rules” to ensure it is free to all members of the community, that there is no queue jumping, and that every dose is accounted for through the Immunisation Register.
Mass vaccination clinics will stand up to immunise literally thousands of individuals in our community every day, particularly the 1a and 1b groups. Some of these clinics will be led by general practice (as the respiratory clinics currently are) and this reflects an understanding that vaccination is a core capability for this part of the health care system. And while these clinics may be run by the primary care sector, they will be agnostic in patient selection and will ultimately see all-comers in their area. This will also allow critical existing medical processes to continue in delivering health care to patients without the distraction of a pandemic response of juggling COVID-19 vaccination at the same time.
While the finer details are still being developed, there are still lots of unknowns around logistics with the available information changing almost daily. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending time second guessing different elements of what the rollout might look like.
One example was raised by a local GP who expressed concern that she and her colleagues were only being categorised as 1b in the roll out. The reality is that she and others will likely have access to the Astra Zeneca vaccine in the community at the front end of that process, and will probably be some weeks ahead of many in the 1a cohort, because of the challenges of managing the Pfizer vaccine which may take some months to get to all the individuals in the 1a group.
The traditional general practice and retail pharmacy vaccine delivery mechanisms will likely come on stream later in the year. Added to this is the usual influenza vaccination that primary care has been successfully delivering for years. This will again be delivered through the traditional means, with the added complexity of needing to be a minimum of 2 weeks clear of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Our GCPHN team continues to engage widely to ensure that we can support primary care in this new world, and updates will continue to be sent direct to all who have provided email addresses. If you are not on these contact lists, please send an email to email@example.com to be included. We are meeting weekly with Queensland Health and all primary care organisations, and separately with the local Gold Coast Health team. We continue to advocate for primary care as a critical part of the COVID-19 response. While we may not have all the answers, we will provide up to date information as it is formalised and will ask questions along the way if clarity is needed.
Dr Roger Halliwell
General Practice Gold Coast (GPGC) Board Chair
We enter 2021 continuing to ride the wave of change. There are challenges, but equally there are opportunities. Individually we must be aware of our capacity and collectively we are stronger if we continue to support each other.
GPGC has started the year welcoming a new cohort of GP registrars and GPs new to the Gold Coast and Tweed area. The energy that this group brings is palpable and we look forward to getting to know and working closely with our new GP members. If you know of anyone who isn’t yet linked in please point them the direction of our Facebook group or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ease into the year at GPGC we started with a family and dog friendly catch up at Palm Beach. After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback we are looking at making this a regular GPGC event, potentially even linking into having this count towards your professional development in the form of CPD points. I’m always amazed how these casual catch ups in relaxed environments, facilitate discussions around self-care and reflective practice. Meeting the dogs (and families) of GPGC members was also a bonus!
It has almost been a year since our evening event, “The Future of General Practice”. The last twelve months have brought us all closer and we are excited to be facilitating another event that will bring members together for a dinner discussion with those in leadership roles within our health system. General practice is the heart of healthcare in our community and our stories are powerful. We are excited to announce that Dr Karen Price, current RACGP president will also be joining us. Karen is particularly keen to explore how the RACGP can better support local GP organisations. Please look out for the event details which are coming soon and save the date for the evening of Thursday 25 March.
Last year we received requests for a dermatology education event. This has been scheduled to occur in April and will likely be in the format of a round table dinner event at Bumbles Café. Another date to note is Thursday 29 April. Planning is also underway for a business of general practice event. The value of GP and how we market our skills within our community. This event will link with the GPGC website development work and we hope that the end product will assist you in ensuring that the work you all do remains financially viable.
On behalf of the GPGC board thank you all for your ongoing support. Things have certainly been challenging and there are times when we all need to pause and reset. We are however replenished by the connections formed and seeing the advocacy work come to fruition. The board continues to be actively involved with the media. We also continue to represent General Practice within both our local and state leadership groups. It has been a privilege to have been recently asked to join the QLD state PPE Taskforce (in my GPGC chair capacity, but representing all of the primary care sector in QLD). Please reach out with any questions or thoughts, as the ACM is also approaching, please consider whether you would be interested in undertaking a governance role within the GPGC organisation – the organisation thrives from diversity and we are very keen to support members who are interested in becoming more involved. If you are uncertain but interested, we are happy to chat and fill you in on what may be available. Please send an email to email@example.com.
Dr Kat McLean
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