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Disaster Readiness
Disaster events are increasing in prevalence and severity across northern Queensland, which is the area of responsibility for Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).

In recent years there has been increased levels of exposure to extreme weather events, as well as other emerging issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing drug shortages.

NQPHN works closely with Local Disaster Management Groups (LDMGs), District Disaster Management Groups (DDMGs), Health Function Groups (HFGs), and Hospital Health Services (HHSs) to actively support their disaster management responsibilities by coordinating with primary health providers when required.
Disaster management and business continuity planning

NQPHN have the Emergency Disaster Management Plan and Business Continuity Plan in place, and particularly encourages general practices and community pharmacies to do the same as soon as possible, so that they are prepared, well stocked and best positioned to respond to crises and the health needs of their communities.

Disaster management considerations
  • Develop and maintain 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
  • Update medication lists and health care plans – with consideration to impacts of compounding disasters (e.g. pandemic x floods)
  • Have a system in place to routinely capture and confirm every patient’s current contact details
  • Ensure that patients with a My Health Record have current information recorded and an up to date shared health summary where appropriate
  • Take steps to encourage patients to have an in-person appointment to ensure continued telehealth eligibility.
Response during a disaster
  • Consider extending opening hours to accommodate an increase in patient demand
  • Communicate to patients any changes to access or open hours and/or reinforce continued access
  • Regularly visit and follow alert and warning update sites to stay informed.
Stay Informed
Recovery from a disaster
  • Review and identify lessons
  • Communicate with patients about return to normal business hours
  • Identify community population health needs post disaster and develop campaigns to address emerging needs e.g. focus on mental health assessments
  • Identify and reach out to patients with increased vulnerability factors
  • Connect with and refer to local social and community support agencies.
18 January 2024

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