Wellbeing support in primary care
GP Long Lunch
Being a doctor can be stressful, with daily challenges likely to impact individual health and wellbeing. Following the success of the inaugural GP Long Lunch in 2021, which was initially undertaken as an activity of the Central Coast Doctor Wellbeing and Support Project, this year’s lunch was held in May 2022.
Hosted at the Central Coast's scenic Glenworth Valley, the Long Lunch provided an opportunity for GPs to come together in a relaxed, natural environment, and learn more about self-care and support strategies to enhance their health and wellbeing.
PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis attended the event and reflected on the importance of providing emotional support to GPs. "The day is all about providing learning, reconnecting, and enjoying a break which is really valuable. GPs across the region have been working so hard and contributing so much and it's terrific to be able to give back."
The GPs in attendance provided positive feedback about the day, including:
I’m happy and excited to be here to spend some time in a beautiful place, to be with others, share experiences, learn from peers, and take a moment to reflect on ourselves.
-Dr Ameeta Patel GP Gwandalan Summerland Medical
To catch up with colleagues and friends in a non-clinical setting, to talk about managing the stresses of general practice and how to support each other is critical.
-Dr John Fogarty GP Point Clare Medical Practice
Today, I'd like to share some of the things I learnt oved 30-40 years of general practice but also in the past year since I have retired, it’s given me a different perspective.
-Dr George Miller Retired GP
COVID-19 Impact Survey for Primary Care
The negative impacts of COVID-19 continued to be widely felt across the region's primary care sector throughout 2021-22. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the emotional and mental health of primary care staff and the management of chronic health conditions were identified as the two areas of most concern according to the results of the PHN’s COVID Impact Survey undertaken in April 2022.
Throughout the pandemic the PHN conducted three surveys of general practices and primary care providers, aiming to assess COVID-19's ongoing impact, and to provide rationalisation for a range of ongoing support activities.
In responding to the additional impacts of COVID-19 on general practice and allied health providers, the PHN offered a range of supportive strategies and services including:
- Continuing access to a free and confidential counselling service
- Staff Wellbeing and Telehealth Support Grants Programs recognising the unique and persistent challenges faced by primary care providers and staff working in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF)
- Targeted provision of PPE and primary care support that addressed the identified needs of individual practices and health providers
- Resilience and Wellbeing coaching for general practice staff.
Professional education and scholarships
The PHN continued to provide a comprehensive program of continuing professional education opportunities throughout 2021-22 with more than 17,000 health professionals participating in 166 education related events. These included both webinars and in-person events offering information on a range of topical issues including:
- Managing COVID-19 care in practices and the community
- GP recruitment strategies
- Stress management for health professionals
- Management practices in primary care
- Identifying and responding to Domestic and Family Violence
- Implementing Digital Health and Quality Improvement strategies.
In addition, the PHN offered scholarships and subsidised education and training to healthcare professionals to improve their skills and knowledge in key areas. For example, in collaboration with UNE Partnerships the PHN offered practice staff free access to short courses in infection prevention and control and communication skills.
Recognising the frequent challenges faced by GPs in non-rural areas to fund their own professional development, the PHN also offered 70 Central Coast GPs a scholarship opportunity to upskill in Skin Cancer detection and management – read more.