19 September 2019

We heard from you, through our 2018 consultation, that primary health care providers want to be involved in the activities of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN). As a consequence, new advisory groups are being created to better engage local leaders and experts to inform what we do to support you, and to build on the work of our Community and Clinical Councils.

About our General Practice Advisory Group

The General Practice Advisory Group (GPAG) is one such group. This group will help to ensure the implementation of our new primary care engagement model in a way that meets the needs of local general practices.

The objectives of the GPAG are:

  • To provide specialist advice on general practice and NWMPHN priorities
  • To ensure NWMPHN programs are relevant and realistic for primary care
  • To advise on priorities for primary care workforce development, education and training

Our new General Practice Advisory Group (L-R): Karen Hoffman, Chris Hitching, Danielle Siler, Dr Heather Dowd, Felicity Sammut, Natalie Simpson-Stewart, Matt Stewart, Dr Raymond Wen.

Who are they?

Name Area Occupation Employer
Dr Raymond Wen Central General practitioner East Brunswick Medical Centre
Natalie Simpson-Stewart Central Nurse Summit Medical Group
Chris Hitching Central Practice manager Turn the Corner Medical Clinic
Matt Stewart North Nurse Hillcrest Health Centre
Karen Hoffman North Practice manager North Coburg Medical Centre
Dr Heather Dowd West General practitioner cohealth (Footscray – Paisley St)
Danielle Siler West Nurse IPC Health (Deer Park)
Felicity Sammut West Practice manager Deer Park Medical Centre


We are still seeking expressions of interest from a GP who is working in our northern region (the Darebin, Hume, Macedon Ranges and Moorabool local government areas).  If you or someone you know is interested and meets these requirements, please email primarycare@nwmphn.org.au.

Role of the GPAG

NWMPHN will consult with this advisory group in relation to:

  • Reforms and implementation challenges, opportunities, and enablers
  • Quality improvement program design and implementation
  • General practice priorities and workforce development
  • Practice manager, practice nurse, and interdisciplinary regional networks
  • Design and implementation of NWMPHN programs that involve general practice
  • Resource development, education and training

This group will share challenges, promote innovation, and help to identify and prioritise what is important to our community. They will also help to break down siloes in our sector by connecting people in varying roles and organisations who share common problems and goals. 

First meeting

The GPAG had its inaugural meeting on 4 September 2019. The meeting included discussions about the best ways to run networking events for practice managers, practice nurses, GPs and other primary care providers, including allied health and pharmacy.

The group noted that there needs to be a variety of education on offer as practice managers and nurses are a diverse group, with varying levels of experience and who work in many different types of practices. There were some great suggestions about the importance of providing business education as well as clinical education. The group also discussed the best ways to build a GP network in our region and the importance of sharing between practices at these events – sharing both successes and failures.

If you have ideas about networking for practice managers, practice nurses or GPs, or if you are interested in talking about an education topic or your practice at one of these events please email education@nwmphn.org.au

The group also discussed what practices need to conduct self-directed quality improvement activities. This is especially topical as practices need to participate in continuous quality improvement in partnership with NWMPHN to meet the requirements of PIP QI.

The GPAG will be working with NWMPHN’s Primary Care Improvement Team to make sure that our QI packages for general practice are fit for purpose and have all the templates, tools, guidelines and examples practices for self-directed QI activities.

If you are interested or have experience in quality improvement, in general or on a specific topic, and would like to work with NWMPHN and the GPAG to develop a toolkit for general practice please email primarycare@nwmphn.org.au.

Plans for the future

The GPAG will meet again in November 2019 and will continue to work with NWMPHN over the coming year to strengthen our support for primary care. Keep an eye on future newsletters to hear more about their work and how you can link in with the members.

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