Preparing for the flu season

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MPHN, Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) and other key stakeholders, including general practice and NSW Ambulance, are working together to better respond to the surge in healthcare demand over the winter period. The project aims to support general practices to keep their most vulnerable patients well and reduce their likelihood of being hospitalised in winter, improve vaccine uptake and establish an efficient and effective process for transfer of care from hospital to community during winter.

MPHN CEO Melissa Neal said each winter there is an increase in health care demand both in the community and in hospitals and that older people and those who are young, or pregnant are especially vulnerable during the winter months. “Some people are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu. Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and we encourage people to get vaccinated – even if they’re fit and healthy – the more people that get vaccinated the more protection there is for everyone”.

“We work closely with local GPs and staff to support them in identification of high risk patients, developing pre flu season care plans, encouraging vaccination and empowering their patients to manage their conditions over the winter period” Ms Neal said.

MLHD CE Jill Ludford said that during the flu season there is a significant increase in the number of people that present to hospital emergency departments. Having a joint strategy across the acute and primary care settings will help address this. “With the additional demand expected on our health services we’ve looked to optimising our patient flow between hospitals, improving coordination between ambulances, hospitals and primary care” Ms Ludford said.

A comprehensive awareness campaign has been developed including television, radio, newspaper and social media, to promote flu vaccination and simple hygiene habits to prevent the spread of the disease – wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, dispose of your tissues into a bin, and stay at home if unwell.

Debbie Angel