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Further funding to support general practice COVID-19 response

Posted on November 25, 2020

Primary Health Tasmania welcomes further State Government funding to support general practices in their COVID-19 response.

Health Minister Sarah Courtney announced on 25 November the Government would provide almost $1 million to Primary Health Tasmania to help build general practice ability to safely assess, test and manage people with COVID-19 symptoms.

This funding program has been informed by findings from a recent Primary Health Tasmania survey of Tasmanian general practices, which identified barriers and opportunities for testing.

Primary Health Tasmania welcomes the Tasmanian Government’s support and ongoing recognition of general practice as an important part of Tasmania’s COVID-19 response.

Surgical gowns for all general practices

Under this funding program, all Tasmanian general practices will receive a one-off supply of surgical gowns to add to their outbreak management kits.

This is in response to practices’ feedback that they need better access to surgical gowns to be able to test and manage people with COVID-19 symptoms.

Primary Health Tasmania will purchase and distribute up to 500 gowns per practice, depending on practice size.

Each practice has already received a supply of surgical and P2 masks from the Australian Government’s National Medical Stockpile, for use in the event of an outbreak.

Primary Health Tasmania will also retain a small supply of gowns as a safety net in case practices have difficulty sourcing further supplies if there is an outbreak and no commercial supplies are available. There is also a supply of masks for use in similar circumstances.

Working with targeted practices to increase testing in rural and regional areas

The majority of the funding under this program will enable Primary Health Tasmania to work with a group of practices in rural and regional areas who – through the recent survey – have expressed some interest in being supported to start or increase current assessment and testing levels to meet the needs of their patients.

Support for this targeted group of practices will be a mix of:

  • assessment of practices’ infrastructure, resource, training and mentoring needs
  • guidance from a clinical consultant experienced in general practice-based COVID testing
  • provision of testing processes and protocols
  • training in infection prevention and control and use of PPE, partnering with the University of Tasmania School of Nursing
  • limited funding to support infection prevention and control needs
  • assessment of the potential for setting up regional networks of practices to coordinate local testing.

Not all Tasmanian general practices are in a position to start routinely testing for COVID-19. This can be for a range of reasons including building layout not allowing appropriate infection prevention and control, and some staff being in vulnerable population groups. Primary Health Tasmania’s recent survey was useful in helping identify practices that are willing to consider routine testing.

The Tasmanian Government funding announced on 25 November supplements Australian Government resources and funding provided to Primary Health Tasmania to support local general practices and other primary healthcare providers.