GP Network News, Issue 12 Number 36

14 Sep 2012

Making the Best Use of GPs in Emergencies and Natural Disasters

The AMA this week released two new Position Statements outlining the role of GPs in emergencies and natural disasters and how best to support GPs in these situations.

The AMA Position Statement on Involvement of GPs in Disaster and Emergency Planning 2012 has been developed to help policymakers at all levels of government and medical practitioners across Australia be more aware of the issues involved in natural disaster planning and emergency management, and the role of GPs in these situations.

The AMA Position Statement on Supporting GPs in the Immediate Aftermath of a Natural Disaster 2012 is aimed at helping those involved in planning the immediate recovery from a natural disaster or emergency to include focussing on the needs of general practices in the immediate aftermath of such events.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that GPs are at the forefront of providing care in a crisis.

“When a crisis hits and there are injuries, GPs and other doctors make themselves available to see their patients, patients not able to see their own doctors, backfill positions in hospitals, provide on-the-ground assistance in emergency locations and in emergency accommodation, and they treat the walking wounded – both the rescued and the rescuers.

“The AMA would like to see a more formal process of involving GPs in planning for emergency or disaster situations.

“We also want to see coordinated planning to ensure that primary health care services remain active in the aftermath of disasters, including when GPs, their families, and their general practices are victims of natural disasters,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA Position Statement on Involvement of GPs in Disaster and Emergency Planning 2012 may be viewed here.

The AMA Position Statement on Supporting GPs in the Immediate Aftermath of a Natural Disaster 2012 may be viewed here.

Click here for full press release.

Health Alert for Clinicians - Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome Cases in Yosemite National Park, United States

Australia has been notified by the United States Department of Health and Human Services of a number of cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) amongst people who had stayed at the Yosemite National Park, particularly the “Signature Tent Cabins” in Curry Village since June 2012. As of 6 September 2012, there have been eight cases, three of them fatal.

Health professionals should be aware of the risk of HPS in Australians who stayed in the Yosemite National Park between June and August 2012, particularly people who stayed in the “Signature Tent Cabins”.

Deer mice are the reservoir of Hantavirus in the United States. The incubation period for HPS is typically 2-4 weeks after exposure, with a range of a few days up to 6 weeks. Health professionals should ask about travel history and exposure to rodents in patients presenting with symptoms of Hantavirus.

Initial symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and cough. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The disease can progress rapidly to severe difficulty breathing and approximately 36% of cases are fatal.

No specific treatment is available, but early recognition and administration of supportive care greatly increase the chance of survival. For more information, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a fact sheet for clinicians

Additional information is available from the US National Parks Service ( and CDC’s Hantavirus website (

AMA Welcomes Greens’ Bill To Establish Expert Health Care Panel For Refugees

The AMA welcomes the Australian Greens’ Bill to establish an independent Expert Health Care Panel to oversee the health of asylum seekers and refugees in immigration detention. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, called for an Expert Panel at the AMA Parliamentary Dinner in Canberra last month, saying the Panel would “add some humanity to an otherwise inhumane policy”.

Asylum seekers and refugees are at particular risk from a range of health conditions including psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety depression, and the physical effects of persecution and torture. They also suffer poor dental hygiene, poor nutrition and diet, infectious diseases, and health problems associated with the general living conditions in detention facilities.

View the press release here

Click here to view the AMA Position Statement on the Health Care of Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

AMA Launches Careers Advisory Service

The AMA has developed a new Careers Advisory Service to assist young doctors embarking on their medical careers and older doctors considering changing their career direction.

Stage 1 of the Service, launched this week, provides practical assistance in producing a professional resume, completing job applications, and preparing for job interviews. It will be of particular benefit to medical students who are about to graduate, doctors in training, and international medical graduates working or hoping to work in Australia.

Stage 2 of the Service, to be developed over the next six months, will concentrate on helping experienced medical practitioners take on new career challenges or move to new locations.

There is also a dedicated AMA Careers Advisory Website, which will be constantly modified and updated to meet the needs of doctors as they progress in their medical careers.

The Service is available nationally and will be coordinated out of the offices of the AMA (ACT) in Canberra. Further information is available from Kathryn Morgan, Careers Consultant, 02 6270 5410 or

The AMA Careers Advisory Service website address is

We welcome your comments and suggestions as well. Please tell us what you think.


Taking a well deserved break is now even more rewarding for AMA members with a Free Double Upgrade offer on weekend rentals of 2 days or more.

This offer is in addition to your exclusive discounted AMA rate, and free membership to Hertz #1 Gold which offers priority service for frequent renters.

The double upgrade is available to AMA members at participating Hertz rental locations around Australia and when renting specified vehicle types. Simply call Hertz reservations on 13 30 39, or visit and quote your Customer Discount Programme #283826 and Promotion Code 174521


In this issue

AMA is the peak medical organisation in Australia representing the profession’s interests to Government and the wider community. Your Federal AMA General Practice Policy team can be contacted via email or by phone (02) 6270 5400. You can unsubscribe from GPNN by emailing