Information for North Coast health professionals
In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, the Healthy North Coast Disaster Management Framework guides our preparation, response and recovery activities. This framework is accompanied by a suite of internal procedures that support our staff.
Our region experiences a range of natural disasters including floods, bushfires, drought and pandemics. These emergencies can pose a risk to business continuity in general practice. It is a requirement of the RACGP Standards for General Practice that practices compile and maintain an emergency response plan. Our Primary Care Impact preparedness activity helps practices prepare for emergencies and support business continuity by developing and regularly reviewing an emergency response plan.
Tips for being better prepared
- Develop an up-to-date emergency response plan.
- Exercise your plan on a regular basis.
- Contact other primary health care providers in your area to connect and offer mutual support.
- Have a plan in place to send communications to patients about service disruptions or changes.
Training and resources
The following resources can help you and your staff prepare for emergencies and respond effectively in times of crisis.
Healthy North Coast offers a range of resources to support health professionals and the community respond in emergency situations.
Lismore Primary Health Precinct — free clinical service spaces
With support through the Australian Government PHN program, Healthy North Coast has worked with Southern Cross University (SCU) to secure temporary clinic spaces. These are for use free-of-charge by primary care clinicians and services in the Lismore region who have had premises impacted.
Visit the Lismore Primary Health Precinct Directory to view local primary care providers currently delivering services from this location.
We Are Open
Emergencies and natural disasters may disrupt access to health care, reduce the availability of the health workforce and cut off essential utilities such as electricity, water and telecommunications.
The Healthy North Coast We Are Open program supports general practice and AMSs to extend their opening hours so that local communities can access primary health care during and after an emergency.
Healthy North Coast GP Telehealth
The Healthy North Coast GP Telehealth service supports our local health care providers and communities during and after emergencies. North Coast residents who are not able to get an appointment with their regular GP due to disaster, distance, or lack of after-hours services, can now book a free telehealth appointment with a GP any time of the day or night, seven days a week.
Connect to Wellbeing
Connect to Wellbeing connects health professionals and community members to the right mental health support and information. Connect to Wellbeing offers referral advice, resources and access to free face-to-face or telephone counselling with qualified mental health professionals.
HealthPathways offers health professionals local information to make the right decisions together with patients, at the point of care.
The pathways are designed primarily for general practice teams, but are also available to specialists, allied health professionals, and other health professionals in your region.
Keep up to date with relevant alerts and warnings during a disaster
Health professionals play a critical role in supporting individuals and communities to recover after natural disasters and other emergencies. People affected by recent natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic across the North Coast can seek information and support here:
Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program
The Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program has been developed in response to the catastrophic flooding which occurred across the Northern Rivers region in March 2022 to assist primary care teams through the recovery period.
The program aims to retain the primary care workforce by supporting:
- Rest and relief for an overworked workforce
- Debriefing and resilience amongst teams
- Individual capacity to be responsive to patient needs
Mental health support
Disasters can affect everyone in the community and mental health needs often emerge in the months following a disaster. If a community member needs mental health support, there are services ready to help people through the difficult times.
Additional information and support for community members can be found here.
Training and resources
The following resources can help you and your staff provide the best care for community members recovering from disasters.