Primary health disaster response and recovery

Australia is prone to a variety of natural disasters such as bushfires, floods, severe storms and heatwaves which can have a profound impact on the population’s health and wellbeing. Primary health plays a critical role in responding to emergencies and should consider a business continuity plan in the event of a disaster.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed the Managing emergencies in general practice guide to assist practices in preparing, responding and recovering during a disaster.

The Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) has established a HELPLINE (0484 597 191) to provide administrative support for practices that have been affected by the bushfires. Phoenix Australia has also developed resources to support GPs working within bushfire affected communities.

Clinical Psychologist, David Younger, has extensive experience providing support and assistance to communities throughout Australia affected by natural disasters and emergencies. Watch the following videos for useful recommendations and practical self-care strategies:

The most effective support during a time of disaster is to consider extending practice opening hours to accommodate an increase in patient demand.

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TIPS FOR BEING PREPARED

  • develop an up-to-date emergency response plan
  • exercise your plan on a regular basis
  • contact other practices in your local area and agree on how you can offer mutual support
  • have a plan in place to send communications to patients about service disruptions or changes.

Keep up-to-date during a disaster via:

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REFER TO HEALTHPATHWAYS

ACT & Southern NSW HealthPathways:

Illawarra Shoalhaven HealthPathways:

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SUPPORT FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

In a disaster, health professionals can be both the victim and the responder - remember to take care of your own health. Useful resources and services include:

 

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SUPPORT FOR THE COMMUNITY

Encourage community members to visit our 'Bushfire support' page at www.bushfiresupport.info to find services, mental health support options and resources.

This includes a list of COORDINARE funded mental health and suicide prevention programs.

GPs have greater flexibility to provide services to patients whose mental health is affected by bushfires. Those with additional training also have access to provide patients up to 10 face-to-face or telehealth sessions of MBS counselling. Find out more here.