This page aims to link Tasmanian health professionals with the latest information on management of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Australia. If you are a community member, please go to this page which has information tailored for consumers rather than health professionals.
The response is being coordinated by the Australian Government Department of Health, supported by public health units in state health departments around the country. Tasmania’s Public Health Services and Primary Health Tasmania are working together to keep local health professionals up to date in changing circumstances.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. Up-to-date information is available via:
COVID-19 is a notifiable disease in Tasmania under the Public Health Act 1997.
Health professionals are encouraged to be alert to the possibility of COVID-19 in patients who are showing a range of flu-like symptoms.
Current advice on testing and management is available via Tasmanian HealthPathways (see below).
Health professionals can access guidance on the use of personal protective equipment in non-inpatient healthcare settings.
Vaccine roll out
General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1b. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.
The Australian Government will also work closely with Primary Health Networks to determine general practice distribution points for the vaccine. Over time, there will be more than 1,000 distribution points across Australia.
If you’re a local general practice interested in finding out more about how this will work in Tasmania, please contact our provider support team.
Aged care facilities
People living in residential aged care will be among the first people in Australia to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine. This is part of the first phase of our COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy, which is referred to as Phase 1A.
The Australian Government has tasked Primary Health Networks around the country – including Primary Health Tasmania, for this state – with supporting local residential aged care facilities to prepare for the vaccinations.
This process is expected to commence in late February.
The Australian Government has created this website detailing news and information for Australians about the development, approval process and plans for COVID-19 vaccines.
As part of the ongoing COVID-19 response, Tasmanian HealthPathways has developed a suite of COVID-19 specific Pathways, to be updated on a regular basis. These Pathways are where local health professionals are encouraged to go if they want to get accurate, localised information about navigating care during the coronavirus response period, tailored to a variety of contexts.
These updates relates to new clinical information, Tasmanian and Australian Government recommendations and guidelines, business support, and changes to local services.
These clinics are for people who have mild-to-moderate cold and flu symptoms. They provide assessment, testing, and initial treatment of symptoms.
Personal protective equipment
The Australian Government has released a number of single-use surgical masks from the national medical stockpile. They are being distributed by PHNs, including Primary Health Tasmania, to general practices and community pharmacies with an identified need.
These masks are available on request by general practices, pharmacies, after-hours GP home-visiting services, medical deputising services, and nurse practitioner-owned or led primary care practices with no access to commercial supplies. They will be be delivered as soon as possible and are only for use in the assessment of patients with suspected COVID-19.
To request a supply, or if you have any questions, please email us.
The Australian Government has prepared a fact sheet with information for both health professionals and community members on the use of face masks.
Primary Health Tasmania has a stock of face shields that may be allocated to general practices, pharmacies and allied health organisations.
Requests will now be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Please clearly state the number of face shields you require in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please understand we may be unable to meet your request depending on availability.
Whole-of-population telehealth expansion and the Medicare Benefits Schedule
The Australian Government has announced whole-of-population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services to support the response to COVID-19.
From 30 March 2020, telehealth (video-conference) and phone consultation items are available to all Australians.
You can find out more, including a range of fact sheets about the COVID-19 temporary MBS telehealth services, here.
Aphra has also created guidance about telehealth for practitioners, which you can access here.
Healthdirect VideoCall pilot
Primary Health Tasmania is supporting the Healthdirect VideoCall pilot for Tasmanian general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS).
Under a special funding arrangement with the Australian Department of Health, Healthdirect’s VideoCall platform is now available to general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) in Australia until December 2021. The pilot program for Healthdirect VideoCall use by non-GP services is available until 30 June 2021.
General practices, ACCHS and allied health organisations wishing to participate in the pilot must review this information sheet and ask your practice manager to:
Support to optimise medication management in residential aged care
The Aged Care Royal Commission’s interim report highlighted regular medication reviews as a national priority area for people living in residential aged care facilities.
COVID-19 has also highlighted the importance of medication reviews to reduce polypharmacy, prevent medicine interactions, adverse events and improve staff safety.
Consultant Pharmacy Services is working collaboratively with Primary Health Tasmania, to support general practitioners to optimise medication management in residents living in aged care facilities.
Patients who have respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease or diabetes are particularly likely to benefit from review of their medicines in the context of COVID-19.
Consultant Pharmacy Services will be available to provide a COVID-19 specific medication management case review and general practices can receive a visit by a consultant pharmacist.
This is an opportunity to receive in-service education and to discuss complex cases.
GPs can access this service free of charge. Please send an ereferral to cpsedurf or contact Peter Tenni (Peter@cpsedu.com.au, 0439850086) or Shane Jackson (Shane@cpsedu.com.au, 0408485430) to initiate the process. Advice may be provided by phone or video consultation if geographical limitations exist.
Written resources to support medication management for aged care and other at-risk environments such as in-home care and disability care are currently under development.
Changes have been made to Commonwealth legislation to recognise an electronic prescription as a legal form to allow medicine supply. This provides prescribers and patients with an alternative to paper prescriptions. Paper prescriptions will still be available.
Electronic prescribing will not fundamentally change existing prescribing and dispensing processes. It provides patients with greater choice and patients can still choose which pharmacy they attend to fill their prescription.
Under the National Health Plan for COVID-19, the Australian Government has accelerated the delivery of electronic prescribing and will be progressively available from the end of May 2020. The implementation of electronic prescribing to help protect people most at-risk from COVID-19.