COVID-19 White Paper: A response to recovery

  2 August 2021  NWMPHN   

Nowhere in Australia faced a more severe impact from COVID-19 during 2020 than the region covered by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).  

As of early 2021, there had been 12,171 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the NWMPHN area, accounting for 59% of the total Victorian cases and 42% of total Australian cases. 

The pandemic in turn cast a harsh light on systemic failures and barriers which have been a feature of the local health system for many years, demanding an immediate response. 

Through hard work, embracing innovation and integration and taking a health first approach, NWMPHN was able to respond and ensure excellent care was provided to our community, especially to the many thousands of people living with COVID-19. 

Initially the pandemic response focused on avoiding overwhelming emergency departments and intensive care units with COVID-19 patients – but it turned out that the vast majority of our community that had COVID-19 were instead being looked after by general practitioners and other health professionals. 

However, GPs and the rest of the primary health care sector weren’t included in the original planning and response.   

The COVID-19 White Paper outlines how we addressed this critical omission through our response to the pandemic and details other challenges overcome during the second wave of COVID-19 in Melbourne’s north, west and inner suburbs last year. 

Key lessons included: 

  • A primary care led response in prevention and intervention is effective in achieving better health outcomes 
  • Having clear processes, roles and accountabilities and messaging across health and social care systems is crucial in emergency preparedness and outbreak management  
  • An integrated model for stepped care between primary and acute services improves access to care and overall health outcomes 

The white paper also highlights the key activities that got us through the crisis and the changes in approach and innovations which need to be carried forward into the post pandemic future. 

You can now read our White Paper on our website, visit