The information on this page is the latest information and resources to provide AMS and ACCHO Support.
The Western NSW Primary Health Network recognises and appreciates the unique role our Aboriginal Medical Services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations play in delivering health services and support tailored specifically to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities in our region. We endeavour to do our best to support you during the COVID-19 response.
We have created this section of our website specifically for AMSs and ACCHOs to access relevant resources and information specific to Aboriginal people and health services.
We encourage you to download these resources, visit these websites and to regularly check the Department of Health and NSW Health websites for the latest COVID-19 updates.
Healthdirect Hotline: 1800 022 222
Public Health Unit: 1300 066 055
If you require clinical advice on matters relating to Communicable Diseases or other Public Health issues outside of normal hours, please contact your nearest Public Health Unit.
Bathurst: 0428 400 526
Dubbo: 0428 400 526
Broken Hill: 0419 917 426
Amber Alert Issued by NSW Health
Given the current context of local transmission, NSW Health has advised LHDs / SCHNs to escalate to a moderate risk level (Amber).
This requires all health workers to wear a surgical mask if they are within 1.5m of patients. Patients are also required to wear a mask, where possible.
This advice applies to hospital and community health settings and came into effect on Friday 24 July 2020.
RACGP is supporting this new directive from NSW Health for all healthcare workers to wear a face mask when physical distancing is not possible. This applies to all face-to-face consultations, regardless of symptoms.
If a patient calls you, check any recent overseas travel history when assessing symptoms.
If a patient presents to you without calling:
Ask the patient to wear a surgical mask and move them to a separate room.
Use standard, contact and airborne transmission precautions, including a P2 (N95) mask, disposable gown, gloves, and eye protection if available, when entering the room.
Immediately contact your Public Health Unit (1300 066 055) who will arrange a phone risk assessment and advise on next steps. If further assessments and testing are recommended, this will generally be arranged at a hospital emergency department.
When considering methods of testing it is important to understand the pre-test probability, the sensitivity of the test regarding what you are testing for, the interpretation of results and accuracy of that interpretation. It is easy to get this very wrong, and the ramifications are very serious.
On the advice of Dr Dan Stewart, Director of Emergency Medicine, Dubbo Health Service:
Point of Care COVID-19 Serology Testing:
The current version of the POC Serology Test suffers from an unacceptably low sensitivity for COVID-19, and therefore has no clinical utility and should not be used.
The process of obtaining an acceptable oro/nasopharyngeal sample is extremely uncomfortable for a patient and requires considerable technical skill. Patients are incredibly unlikely to possess the necessary technical skills to perform the test, and it would be almost impossible for a patient to tolerate a self-collected nasopharyngeal swab.
Self-swabbing would, therefore, increase the risk of false-negative test results due to sampling error, and false-negative test results are worse than not performing the test in the first place. I strongly recommend against self-collection.
Guide to Getting Patient Test Results
NSW Health has provided details on how Testing Services can send, and patients' regular GP can have access to, patient COVID-19 test results.
Any practices experiencing difficulties in accessing patient test results are asked to provide this information to WNSW PHN COVID-19 Coordinator, Tabitha Jones, by emailing: Tabitha.Jones@wnswphn.org.au
NSW Aboriginal Land Council Food Relief Registrations
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council is providing relief packages of food and hygiene items to communities affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. We are particularly targeting Elders in remote communities.
The social distancing measures and restrictions on travel to stop the spread of the disease have made it difficult for many older Aboriginal people to obtain essential supplies.
NSWALC has purchased 1000 Woolworths Basics Boxes of groceries and the NSW Government is providing an initial 500 Service NSW Emergency Relief packages.
Priority will be given to Aboriginal people over 60 living in a NSW community identified as being at particular risk from COVID 19 measures. We aim to get as many boxes to as many vulnerable people as possible in the shortest possible time.
To help stop the spread of COVID-19 governments are restricting the movement of people in and out of remote areas.
The decision to restrict access to remote communities follows advice from Indigenous leaders, decisions by a number of Indigenous communities and the Western Australian and Northern Territory Governments to implement similar measures.
Travelling to other towns and cities could increase the chance of community members getting sick. It could spread the virus between communities.
Community members are encouraged to return to their own community as soon as possible. Anyone returning to community will need to self-isolate for 14 days, outside of their community, before they can return.
All travellers entering Australia, including Australian citizens, must self-quarantine in a home or hotel for 14 days after arrival.
A travel ban is in place for all non-residents and non-Australian citizens, effective 9 pm Friday, March 2020, until further notice.
Commencement of Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Prescriptions) Regulation 2020
Community pharmacists in NSW can now dispense a prescription for most medicines using an image of the prescription received by email or fax, rather than requiring a paper prescription.
This temporary measure will better support patients, prescribers and pharmacists during the COVID-19 response, and allow better integration of the prescription and supply of medicines with the Commonwealth Government’s COVID-19 response telehealth reforms.
Chris O`Brien Lifehouse remains COVID19 free and is NSW’s dedicated cancer-only hospital. GPs can access multidisciplinary cancer teams, including Telehealth consults across all tumour streams for their patients.
Their aim is to ensure access to timely cancer treatment options and plans during this pandemic, we will ensure patients receive care and treatment close to home as we work closely with all medical and radiation oncology teams across NSW.
Safety of Corticosteroid injections during COVID-19
Dr Joel Riley (Consultant Rheumatologist and General Physician, Dubbo) strongly advises that intra-articular, soft tissue, and perineural steroid injections should be avoided whenever possible during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the risk of reduced immunity to viral exposure.
At present, in his clinical practice, he is not performing or referring for any parenteral steroid injection for degenerative diseases (degenerative disc disease, trochanteric bursitis, facet joint arthropathy, etc). In inflammatory conditions (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, etc) he is attempting to use the absolute minimal steroid dose possible to get disease under control.
This is in line with the British Society of Skeletal Radiologists' advice on corticosteroid injections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dementia Australia has released four Help Sheets outlining tips for people living with dementia, carers, families and friends of people living with dementia, residential care providers and home care providers.