Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans and can be spread from person to person. COVID-19 is an evolving international health concern. 

Several COVID-19 testing facilities in Western Sydney have been established to test patients who are suspected of or have symptoms relating to COVID-19. Patients should visit a clinic or collection centre if they have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath and meet the current NSW Health testing criteria.

The test is FREE and generally takes less than 10 minutes. Results should be available between 24 to 72 hours after testing. During this time patients are required to self-isolate until they receive their test results.

If a patient returns a positive COVID-19 test result, it’s a requirement to notify the Public Health Unit.

Find out more about these facilities, including if a GP referral is required, how and when to make an appointment, locations and operating hours on our COVID-19 Testing Locations in Western Sydney webpage

COVID-19 Information for our Health Professionals

We recommend health care professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest advice and information. As information changes we will update GPs as it becomes available. 

COVID-19 Telehealth

Temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) items will allow doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to deliver services via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed.

From Monday 6 April it is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders, children under 16 years old and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Health providers may apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for patients who do not fit the above criteria. Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs. 

A MBS Changes Factsheet is available that explains the latest changes to temporary MBS Telehhealth Services and Items. You can also find out more information on the MBS webpage.

To help keep GPs updated with these changes to telehealth we’ve created a COVID-19 MBS telehealth webpage that lists useful item numbers for your practice.

Healthdirect video call is a freeeasy-to-use, trusted and reliable telehealth option for both GPs and patients to conduct video consultations. Download the New Organisation setup details online to get started. 

Healthdirect video call service resources include:

View this short video to learn more about the Healthdirect Video Call service

We can also help set-up your practice details by emailing support@wentwest.com.au or call 8811 7117. If require further assistance, contact your Practice Development Officer 

The RACGP have created resources to help GPs navigate these changes with the current COVID-19 situation. General practices are rapidly changing the way care is accessed and delivered to ensure the safety of their practice teams, patients and the broader community. One of these changes is increasing the ability for general practice consultations to be conducted via telehealth, these include:

APNA telehealth online training is now available for nurses interested in learning more about providing telehealth consults during the COVID-19 pandemic. This interactive module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to facilitate telehealth consults, within a primary health care setting.

In response to the rapid expansion of telehealth services, NBN Co have announced it is upgrading NBN speed for Australian GP clinics at no extra cost for a period of five months.

As an essential service, telehealth providers can also receive an enhanced fault rectification service that ensures faults are fixed within a specified timeframe. In addition, this comes with prioritised connections and fault resolutions case management through the NBN Co’s Business Operations Centre.

The provision of high speed broadband will allow practices around the country to deliver multiple telehealth consultations simultaneously and ensure your patients receive the care and treatment they need at this crucial time.

To access the upgrade, contact your internet provider. To find out more information visit NBN website.

As part of the National Health Plan, electronic prescribing has been fast tracked. Work to upgrade health care providers’ clinical software is under way and is expected to be ready by May 2020. A factsheet providing more information is available online. 

The Department of Health have created some useful resources that provide information on issues such as PBS claiming arrangements, supply of medicine to patients, signing for receipts of a prescription, repeats and existing prescriptions.

Information for your Practice

Surgical and P2 masks have been supplied in limited numbers to PHNs for distribution to general practice, pharmacy and above-mentioned health care service staff who are exposed to at risk customers.

  • To register your request for surgical masks please complete our Mask Request Form. However before submitting your request for masks, please refer to the PHN locator link to check if you are in the Western Sydney area. Any requests submitted outside our area will not be processed.
  • DoH has advised that stocks from the National Medical Stockpile are limited and masks should only be used in accordance with the guidance provided by The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

Our Practice Development Officers have been coordinating the distribution of these masks, adhering to the DoH Distribution of PPE through PHNs guidance.

As per the department’s guidelines, we are prioritising dispatch to practices, pharmacies and above-mentioned health care service providers in Western Sydney who are:

  • in these areas where there is limited supply,
  • have a population that may be more likely to have been exposed to COVID-19; and/or
  • have unusual numbers of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.

Should you have any questions or inquiries, please contact our Helpdesk on 8811 7117.

You can view previous versions of DoH’s Distribution of PPE through PHNs guidance below:

Practices should refer the NSW Health website for the latest COVID-19 testing advice for health professionals.

  • Arrange Telehealth assessment of patients with respiratory symptoms if they meet the Suspect Case Definition.
  • Arrange further assessment and testing, either at your practice (noting the infection control requirements and you will need to organise specimen collection) a COVID-19 Pathology Collection Centre, GP-led Respiratory Clinic or COVID-19 Clinic. Visit our COVID-19 Testing Locations in Western Sydney webpage for locations, opening hours and referral requirements. 
  • If you are notified of a positive COVID-19 test result, need advice, or have concerns about the ability of a patient to self-isolate, e.g. if they live in a residential facility, contact the Public Health Unit. In NSW calling 1300 066 055 will direct to your local Public Health Unit.

We have provided an adaptable Triage Guide for COVID-19 to suit your practice when triaging patient.

Translated COVID-19 Testing in Western Sydney Flyers

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) have created a COVID-19 Testing in Western Sydney flyer which is available in nine languages to help community members access important information regarding testing requirements and locations in our region.

This flyer is available in the following languages:

Testing and Triage Resources

Pen CS launched the COVID-19 National Guidance Topbar App. This app provides guidance, key links and resources for practitioners surrounding COVID-19. Practitioners have access to key information from the following organisations, straight from Topbar:

  • Australian Government DoH
  • World Health Organization
  • RACGP
  • State/Territories Departments of Health
  • Primary Health Networks

The App is available to all Topbar users.

In an effort to help practices keep up-to-date with Government information and changes relating to COVID-19, we have created a Business Continuity for Practices webpage.

The webpage provides information on telehealth changes, preparing your practice and information and support for business continuity.

As our focus is to address the health and needs of the Western Sydney community, your mental health and well-being as primary health care professionals are just as important. We understand that you are usually on the frontline of social crises, such as bushfire disaster and pandemic, not only witnessing the physical health impacts but the emotional impacts of these events.

It is important that during this time of increased community anxiety that you remember to take care of yourself. Resources are available to support practices on our Business Continuity for Practices webpage

What if your patient is an international student and has no Medicare?

Most people that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance. For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will waive these costs to help support international students. This includes the waiving of payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment.

If your patient test positive to COVID-19 and require treatment, NSW Health will also waive these costs. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for people seeking treatment at NSW Health facilities.

These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.

For more information on student support visit NSW Government website or call 1800 020 080.

COVID-19 Training and Education

Health care professionals can register to our upcoming training and education regarding COVID-19:

Upcoming external training and education:

The DoH are hosting a series of webinars for primary care practitioners working on the national COVID-19 response. For more information on upcoming webinars and previous recordings, visit the website.

The RACGP has an ongoing series of COVID-19 podcasts (under webinars, podcasts and education) to assist you with the latest information. Most of them are 5–10 minutes long, you can listen to them anytime. Recently, the Just a GP hosts spoke to two GPs in Western Sydney, Dr Kean-Seng Lim and WentWest Board member, Dr Wally Jammal, about telehealth changes due to COVID-19.

These episodes are:

  • How we do it, features Dr Wally Jammal and discusses how GP’s can use telehealth to adapt to the COVID pandemic.
  • Telehealth good for now, but not forever, features Dr Kean-Seng Lim and discusses where telehealth fits in the broader scheme of general practice.

The Western Sydney Local Health District have also launched their very own podcast called Western Sydney Health Check. The first episode explores their organisation’s response to COVID-19, featuring Chief Executive Graeme Loy.

The Department of Health is encouraging care workers across the primary care sector, including general practice, pharmacy, allied health, Aboriginal Health Workers and other primary care workers to attend the free COVID-19 – Infection Control Online Training Module.

This module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control topics including:

  • COVID-19 – what is it?
  • signs and symptoms
  • protecting yourself and others and
  • myth Busting

The module takes approximately 30 minutes.

NSW Health together with the RACGP have provided webinar updates on the outbreak of COVID-19 for GPs.

Recordings of previous webinars can be found below:

Questions and answers from these sessions are also available online.

Employment Impact in Private Practice during COVID-19 with Q&A webinar – HotDoc, Wednesday 8 April

Resources available
Key Sources

COVID-19 is an evolving international health concern. We are publishing regular updates on this page, but encourage health professionals to also view the latest advice and information from NSW Health, DoH and the RACGP, as well as current clinical guidance from our HealthPathways’ website.

COVID-19 Information for Our Community

To help you keep up-to-date with the latest advice about COVID-19, we’ve sourced a range of information and resources for you and your family.

What You Need to Know

As COVID-19 continually evolves, we will be providing information from NSW Government and other health organisations on restrictions, guidelines and advice, to ensure you and your family are informed with the latest updates.

Travel and transport

A series of videos about Home-isolation during COVID-19 have been provided from the Western Sydney Local Health District to help support you and your family with coping COVID-19 during the time. Each video will touch on mental health and productivity, fitness and exercising and the importance of keeping you and your family safe, healthy and connected when isolating from home.

For more information visit NSW Health website or contact National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

What if I don’t have Medicare?

Students that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance. For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will waive these costs to help support international students. This includes the waiving of payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment.

These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.

If you test positive to COVID-19 and require treatment, NSW Health will also waive these costs. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for people seeking treatment at NSW Health facilities.

For more information on student support visit NSW Government website or call Study Australia Partners on 1300 981 621.

Where to Seek Health Advice

If you’re feeling unwell and are unsure whether to see your doctor or manage your symptoms at home, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or:

  • Call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for people with questions regarding prevention and the spread of COVID-19
  • Call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse who can provide advice when you’re not sure what to do — whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition at home, or go to an emergency department, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Call the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866. The Support Line provides information, support and connection to Older Australians. their families, friends and carers. The free service is available Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 6pm.

The healthdirect website includes the following information and tools:

Official app

The Australian Government has released an official app with the information you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19). You can download the Coronavirus Australia app and the COVIDSafe app to help protect you and your family.

MyAus is a multi-lingual resource app that provides resources and information about COVID-19 in over 20 different languages. This app is the first multi-lingual feature that allows users to switch languages when they like without compromising their experience. To access the latest information of COVID-19 in your language, download the MyAus app from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Official WhatsApp channel

The Australian Government has started an official WhatsApp channel with the information you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Message +61 400 253 787 or go to aus.gov.au/whatsapp in your web browser to get coronavirus information you can trust from the official Australian Government chatbot.

WhatsApp is available from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Telehealth is a secure and easy way to connect with a health professional through phone consultation and/or video conferencing. It offers benefits for patients, health care workers and the health system through improved access, availability, and efficiency of quality health care. Telehealth consultations are bulk billed to Medicare which contributes to providing efficient and effective quality care that works with but does not replace face-to-face consultation. Telehealth helps to remove the stress of living well by using technology we have in our everyday lives, to help us look after our health more easily.

How to book an appointment?
If you are interested in booking a telehealth appointment, contact your local health service or general practice. For more information you can contact Telehealth Helpline on 6325 0860.

As part of the National Health Plan, information and resources about telehealth have been provided to help you and your family receive the right health care.

COVID-19 Testing Information

Several COVID-19 testing facilities in Western Sydney have been established to test patients who are suspected of or have symptoms relating to COVID-19. You should visit a clinic or collection centre if you have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath and meet the current NSW Health testing criteria.

The test is FREE and generally takes less than 10 minutes. Results should be available between 24 to 72 hours after testing. During this time, you are required to self-isolate until you receive your test results.

Find out more about these facilities, including if a GP referral is required, how and when to make an appointment, locations and operating hours on our COVID-19 Testing Locations in Western Sydney webpage.

Mental Health Support

During this time we encourage you to reach out to the supports available to you.

A comprehensive list of mental health support and resources created by NSW Health is available online. 

Beyond Blue have developed a number of resources and supports to assist people throughout this challenging time, including:

The National Mental Health Commission’s #InThisTogether campaign has launched to support all Australian’s mental health and wellbeing during these times.

Mental health support Helplines

Community Support

Ensuring young people in Western Sydney receive the right help and information is important. A number of youth services have been provided to help you or someone you know can access the right care and support during this time.

Youth Health in Western Sydney Local Health District is providing flu vaccinations and COVID-19 testing for homeless young people who show symptoms of COVID-19. This service is extended to young people living in the same refuge or accommodation service, even if they do not show symptoms.

For more information and to book an appointment contact High Street Youth Health Service on 8860 2500 or Western Area Adolescent team in Mount Druitt on 9881 1230.

Create Foundation is a national consumer body representing children and young people with an out of home care experience, has developed resources and videos around COVID-19 to help children and young people receive important information on what they need to know about COVID-19. Create Foundation have also interviewed young people on their experiences during the pandemic.

Visit Create Foundation website or contact their number on 1800 655 105.

The NSW government and food bank and the Rapid Relief Team are working together to deliver emergency relief packages and food boxes to people in need.

Food Bank Emergency Relief packages

Emergency relief packages are available for people who have been directed by NSW Health to self-isolate, and who:

  • Can’t or are genuinely struggling to afford food and groceries
  • Have no family or friends able to help them with shopping
  • Have no access to delivery services.

The packages contain two weeks of food and personal care items, such as:

  • pasta
  • long life milk
  • canned vegetables
  • toilet paper

Rapid Relief Team (RRT) food box

The Rapid Relief Team food boxes are available for people who are in self-quarantine due to their vulnerability and who:

  • Have lost income or their job, or are on a low income such as a pensioner
  • Have little or no support from friends or relatives
  • Are struggling with meeting their cost of living bills
  • Are unable to access delivery services

If you or someone you know is in need, please contact Services NSW on 13 77 88.

COVID-19 is impacting all Australians. However, with restrictions and self-isolation these can particular challenge older Australians. To support older Australians in Western Sydney, information and resources have been provided from Department of Health (DOH) to help you or your family member seek advice on how to cope during this time.

If you or a family member need support, contact Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866. This support line is available Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8:30am to 6pm.

Key Sources

In the past few months, we have experienced national hardships and with COVID-19 evolving, we understand that this time can be overwhelming and difficult for you and your family. Official Government website’s have created information that will inform you on how to keep healthy during this time. To keep up-to-date with the latest information, click on the following links below:

Information on this page is correct as of 5:30pm AEST Tuesday 2 July 2020