25 September 2023

Our Disaster Management team joined representatives from NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW SES, Wollondilly Shire Council, the Rapid Relief Team and the NSW Police Force on Saturday for the Wollondilly Emergency Services Expo at Picton.

Community members had some fun – experiencing the sensation of handling an active fire hose, climbing into a fire truck, and watching oil and fire demonstrations. These engaging experiences were designed to underscore the very serious message, the importance of preparing for a disaster.

Our team chatted with community members about the disaster preparedness flyer which focuses on highlighting the five simple steps to follow to ensure your health and wellbeing are be prioritised during disaster.

The flyer – which can be found here – seemed to resonate with the community, making them think about how they should start preparing to ensure they could still access their medications or their doctor during an emergency.

Our stall was also an opportunity to raise awareness about the role of SWSPHN and the programs and services we fund.

     

     

     

     

21 September 2023

NSW Health Pathology will be introducing standardised, electronic reporting of pathology test results to GPs, medical specialists and other clinicians working outside the public health system across NSW.

This work is part of a statewide transformation program which will standardise NSW Health Pathology’s technologies, processes and workflows to help NSW Health improve service delivery and patient care.

This work is also part of NSW Health’s Single Digital Patient Record (SDPR) program which will provide a secure, holistic and integrated view of the care a patient receives across the NSW public health system.

By introducing standardised electronic reporting, NSW Health Pathology will enhance its provision of timely pathology results in a format which supports patient care and reduces reliance on paper-based systems and manual processes.

During the next three months, NSW Health Pathology is consulting with GPs, practice managers and other clinical partners to get feedback about the format and functionality which is valued in electronic pathology reporting, so a reporting solution can be developed which best meets your needs.

Face to face or virtual sessions

The NSW Health Pathology team will be contacting a range of GP practices in coming weeks, inviting you to take part in a short (15 to 30 minute) session either face to face or virtually. If you are interested in participating, please contact the team at NSWPATH-Fusion@health.nsw.gov.au

Short survey

If you’re not able to meet, you are invited to complete a short survey about pathology reporting to provide your feedback.

NSW Health Pathology really values your input.

20 September 2023

This week has been a timely reminder extreme heat can have a serious impact on people’s health.

Heatwaves and hot weather have killed more people in Australia than any other disaster.

Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, however it is particularly dangerous for those:

  • over the age of 75
  • babies and young children
  • overweight or obese
  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • poor mobility
  • who are homeless
  • socially isolated, living alone
  • working in a hot environment
  • have a chronic illness (such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, mental illness)
  • have an acute illness (an infection with fever or gastroenteritis)
  • taking certain medications

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency.

It occurs when the body temperature rises about 40.5 degrees.

Immediate first aid is critical to lowering the body temperature as soon as possible.

The effect of heat on chronic conditions

Most heat-related morbidity and mortality is due to the exacerbation of chronic conditions.

Conditions which most commonly contribute to death during a heatwave include:

  • cardiac events
  • asthma or other respiratory illness
  • kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • nervous system diseases
  • cancer

Dehydration and subsequent medication toxicity may exacerbate:

  • altered mental state
  • kidney stones
  • cardiovascular impairment
  • falls

Heat and medication

Some medications can increase the risk of heat-related illness. Some can also be less effective when exposed to high temperatures.

The following medications can be impacted by heat. (This list should be used as a guide only)

Interference with sweating, caused by:

  • anticholinergics, for example tricyclic antidepressants and benztropine
  • beta blockers
  • antihistamines
  • phenothiazines
  • vasoconstrictors

Interference with thermoregulation, caused by:

  • antipsychotics or neuroleptics, for example risperidone, clozapine, olanzapine
  • serotoninergic agonists
  • stimulants, for example amphetamine, cocaine
  • thyroxin

Decreased thirst, caused by:

  • butyrophenone, for example haloperidol and droperidol
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

Dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, caused by:

  • diuretics, especially loop diuretics
  • any drug causing diarrhoea or vomiting, for example colchicines, antibiotics, codeine
  • alcohol

Reduced renal function, caused by:

  • NSAIDS
  • sulphonamides
  • indinavir
  • cyclosporine

Aggravation of heat illness by worsening hypotension, caused by:

  • vasodilators, for example nitrates (GTN) and calcium channel blockers
  • anti-hypertensives

Levels of drug affected by dehydration (possible toxicity for drugs with a narrow therapeutic index), caused by:

  • digoxin
  • lithium
  • warfarin
  • antiepileptics
  • biguanides, for example metformin
  • statins
  • altered state of alertness, caused by any drugs which alter the state of alertness, for example alcohol, benzodiazepine and narcotics

Resources to help you prepare for heatwaves

At-risk community members can prepare for heatwaves and heatstroke using the resources below:

Heatstroke – Health Resource Directory

Preparing for a heatwave – Health Resource Directory

Healthcare providers can find more information at:

Beat the heat (nsw.gov.au)

19 September 2023

GambleAware Week, 16 to 22 October, is an annual initiative to increase awareness of gambling and gambling harm.

It’s an opportunity to increase our community’s understanding of risky gambling behaviour, encourage gamblers to recognise when their gambling may place them at risk of harm, and provide information on practical ways to keep their gambling under control.

This year’s theme What’s gambling costing you? is encouraging people to think about the costs of gambling not only on their finances but also the impacts on health, relationships or careers.

As we near GambleAware Week, this special feature looks at gambling in South Western Sydney and where our community can turn for support.

Gambling harm impacts not only individuals but communities around them.

SWSPHN’s 2022 Needs Assessment found there are high levels of gambling harm in South Western Sydney, particularly in the Fairfield Local Government Area (LGA)1.

The NSW Gambling Survey2 showed one in two adults in NSW gamble, with lotteries and instant scratch lottery tickets comprising 50 per cent of the total gambling methods.

However, 16 per cent of the total are gaming machines2, and are considered to present the greatest risk of harm1

It is estimated one per cent of adults in NSW fall within the severe end of problem gambling and are experiencing harm related to gambling such as financial harm, breakdown of relationships, psychological distress, impaired functioning at work and are more likely to commit criminal activities.

For each person experiencing gambling harm, five to 10 others are impacted3.

According to Liquor and Gaming NSW4 as of April 2023 there are a total of 3,788 gaming machines in clubs and hotels in Fairfield LGA.

Between June and November 2022, gambling profits for clubs only in the Fairfield LGA were more than $225 million.

These are the highest profits in NSW, followed by Bankstown LGA with more than $204 million, Cumberland LGA with over $132 Million and the Central Coast LGA with over $121 million.

It is noted both Bankstown and Cumberland LGAs border Fairfield LGA, with the combined gambling profits for clubs of more than $562 million.  

Although specific profits for gaming machines in hotels are not listed, it is noted three out of 10 of the top-ranking hotels for gaming machine profits for NSW are in Fairfield LGA4.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics5 in 2021, Fairfield LGA was one of the most disadvantaged Local Government Areas in Australia.

Is gambling affecting your life, get help by speaking with your GP or visit one of these sites for support:

Sources:

  1. 2022 South Western Sydney Primary Health Network Needs Assessment, SWSPHN 2022
  2. NSW Gambling Survey 2019, Office of Responsible Gambling NSW, 2020
  3. Enhancing gambling harm screening and referrals to gambling support services in general practice and community service settings in Fairfield LGA: A pilot study, Nguyen, McGhie et al 2020
  4. Six-Monthly Gaming Machine Data – Liquor & Gaming NSW
  5. Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2021 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
14 September 2023

SWSPHN’s Disaster Management team will be sharing information about the importance of healthcare during a disaster or emergency, at the Wollondilly Emergency Services Expo on Saturday, 23 September.

The event will be held from 10am to 2pm at Victoria Park, Picton.

Representatives from the NSW Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, NSW SES, NSW Ambulance and the NSW Police Force will also attend the expo.

Our Disaster Management team will be holding a stall to provide community members with information about how to best prepare their health for a disaster.

They will also be distributing a flyer highlighting the five simple steps to follow to ensure your health and wellbeing can be prioritised during disaster.

The flyer, which provides practical advice about preparing your health for disaster as well as information about access to services, will also be available at:

  • Emergency Ready Day, Sunday, 24 September, 11am to 3pm, Koshigaya Park, Campbelltown
  • Community Links Wellbeing Festival of Fun, Sunday, 26 November, 10am to 2pm, Bargo Sports Ground

During an emergency, PHNs are the first points of contact on primary healthcare coordination and service availability, as part of the overall coordinated health response.

Health outcomes for our community can be greatly improved and enhanced when we prepare and respond to emergencies together.

06 September 2023

The National Asthma Council Australia has released two charts – the Asthma and COPD Medications chart and Selecting and Adjusting Medication for Adults and Adolescents chart – with information for health professionals managing and caring for patients with asthma.

Asthma and COPD Medications chart

The Asthma and COPD Medications chart helps identify and explain different treatments. The updated version includes the latest inhalers available in Australia and specifies the PBS reimbursement status of each medication as at August 2023. 

Selecting and Adjusting Medication for Adults and Adolescents chart

The Selecting and Adjusting Medication for Adults and Adolescents chart is visual reference to medications for each level of the popular Selecting and Adjusting Medication for Adults and Adolescents diagram in the Australian Asthma Handbook.

How to access the charts

Health professionals can order free hardcopies (A2 size) of the charts by contacting the National Asthma Council Australia at nac@nationalasthma.org.au

19 July 2023

SWSPHN has teamed with Western Sydney University (WSU) and Wests Tigers to support an initiative to improve girls’ health and wellbeing through sport.

Beyond the 80 (BT80) is a family-based healthy lifestyle intervention for girls aged 7 to 11 years and their families in South Western Sydney.

The program will harness the popularity of the Wests Tigers National Rugby League club and use rugby league to engage families to promote health and well-being and address health priorities in the region.

Through participation, spectatorship and community engagement, sport has the potential to improve health outcomes, empower individuals and unite communities.

BT80 will be launched in September, initially as a feasibility study (phase 1), and involve about 30 families or 120 participants.

It will be delivered over 10 weeks and will include weekly education and physical activity sessions at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

Education sessions will be delivered to girls and adult family members and will focus on building healthy family routines around key lifestyle behaviours, including: physical activity/sedentary behaviour, healthy eating, mental health and sleep.

Data will be collected on a range of health and wellbeing outcomes before and after taking part in the program. Based on findings from phase 1, the program will be optimised and delivered to a larger sample in the pilot trial (phase 2, 2024-25), before being rolled out on a large scale in phase 3.

SWSPHN, WSU and Wests Tigers share a vision to improve health and wellbeing in South Western Sydney.

 

30 May 2023

While shisha smoking gives an impression of being safer than other types of tobacco smoking because of its fruit flavours and water filtering, it can be just as harmful.

A shisha is a smoking device, also known as a nargila, argileh, waterpipe or hookah. It has four parts: head, body, bowl and hose. The smoker breathes in through the mouthpiece in the hose. Smoke is drawn from the head, down the body, through the water in the bowl and into the mouth.

Shisha smoke contains large amounts of nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar and other toxins. The water in the shisha does not remove any of the toxins and the fruit flavour does not make it a healthy choice. In fact, 45 minutes of smoking a shisha equates to smoking 100 cigarettes.

In the short-term, shisha can increase your heart pressure and reduce lung capacity. In the long-term, it can lead to heart and lung disease and different cancers.

Download the facts
30 May 2023

World Haemochromatosis Week, 1 to 7 June, aims to increase awareness of the health implications of what is Australia’s most common genetic disorder.

Haemochromatosis causes the body to absorb too much iron from food. This excess of iron overloads body tissues, damages organs and can cause premature death.

Even though haemochromatosis is carried by one in seven people and affects one in 200, it is often underdiagnosed because the symptoms of tiredness, muscle weakness and joint pain, are generic and non-specific.

There are simple measures which can be taken to detect and treat haemochromatosis.

Blood tests can identify individuals with existing iron overload; these individuals can then receive a genetic diagnosis through the MBS-listed HFE gene test and first-degree relatives notified for cascade screening.

The standard treatment for haemochromatosis is blood donation, and most individuals with a confirmed diagnosis of haemochromatosis are eligible for treatment through Australian Red Cross LifeBlood’s Therapeutic Donor program.

24 April 2023

Syphilis is on the rise in NSW, so a GP’s role in preventing, diagnosing, and treating STIs and HIV among your patients has never been as important.

New Education

New STI and HIV care online education for GPs, will help:

  • Recognise opportunities to routinely offer STI and HIV testing 
  • Assess patients’ risk of an STI and HIV
  • Conduct testing for STIs and HIV in-line with current guidelines
  • Undertake follow-up and contact tracing after a STI diagnosis

This CPD accredited education was developed by NSW Health and is free for GPs.

Other Resources

You can also tune in to this RACGP podcast, to hear experienced GPs, specialists and patients discuss tips and resources to comfortably talk sex, STIs and blood-borne viruses. 

With increased syphilis cases diagnosed among the NSW general population, the new ASHM interactive syphilis decision making tool quickly guides you through the testing and treatment process, and includes specific advice for treating pregnant women and people.

The NSW Sexual Health Info Link is available to provide support, advice and referral to you and your patients.