Increased flu cases in Victoria

Increased flu cases in Victoria

General practices asked to alleviate pressure on hospitals

11 June, 2019

There are high recorded rates of confirmed flu cases during the past few weeks. 

EMPHN is calling on GPs to continue proactively immunising, refer the most critical cases to emergency departments and advise non-urgent cases of alternatives. 

GPs are urged to: 

  • continue to proactively immunise against the flu 

  • implement practice triage and infection control systems to avoid spread of the flu 

  • brief front line staff on being aware of flu presentations and maintaining good infection control  

  • allocate appointments for emergencies to be booked on the day 

  • prioritise the most critical patients for emergency departments  

  • monitor and prioritise Residential Aged Care patients 

  • advise non-urgent patients of alternatives to the ED department should their symptoms worsen and the practice is closed (see below for a list of alternatives) 

  • ensure all staff are appropriately immunised  

  • review pandemic guidelines in preparation should the situation escalate. 

Alternatives to patients’ regular doctors and emergency departments

Local GP practices may also be experiencing a high demand for same day appointments or locum services. Some other alternatives your patients may be able access depending on their urgency are: 

  1. The National Health Services Directory lists services such as NURSE-ON-CALL, deputising services and after hours general practices

  2. My Emergency Dr is an app that facilitates a video consultation with an Australian-registered specialist emergency doctor in the after-hours. Through EMPHN's funding, the service is free for residents living in Melbourne’s east and north east in the after-hours period, and is also available at cost to people Australia-wide. 

  3. After hours pharmacies in our catchment (Balwyn, Wantirna South, Ringwood)  

Flu resources for GPs 

We encourage GPs to check HealthPathways Melbourne for management advice for older patients and for patients at increased risk of severe illness.  The Immunisation-Influenza pathway provides guidance on ensuring immunisation safety and determining age-appropriate vaccine and number of doses. 

Availability of vaccine stock 

Local council immunisation services stock private flu vaccine in addition to government-funded stocks. If your practice is unable to acquire private flu vaccine, consider referring to local council services, especially children aged 5 to 15 years who are unable to vaccinated in a pharmacy. 

Flu information for patients  

Visit the Better Health Channel