Our priority areas



NQPHN continued to support the Australian Government’s COVID-19 pandemic primary care response and recovery, and the COVID-19 vaccination program rollout, working closely with healthcare providers and all levels of government, as well as other key partners in health, to ensure a successful outcome across our region.  

NQPHN’s primary care response to COVID-19 focused on the four key pillars of communication, coordination, workforce, and community.  

We further recognised the essential role of general practice, pharmacy, Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), allied health, and other primary care services, as well as aged care, home care, and disability care services, in protecting the health of the community.  

In 2022-23, the Disaster Preparedness Team acted as a key conduit and source of information for healthcare providers and the community throughout the vaccination rollout and Living with COVID phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborating with federal, state, and local governments, as well as non-government organisations.  

This included supporting the Department of Health and Aged Care in its COVID-19 efforts by:  

  • playing a key role in an effective COVID-19 vaccination program rollout  
  • supporting implementation of Living with COVID processes and systems  
  • focused education and training of the primary healthcare workforce  
  • enhanced protection for remote communities, including First Nations peoples.  

NQPHN focused on clear and consistent communication about these initiatives to both the health workforce and the wider population to equip Australia’s primary care system with the means to protect the community and primary care workers themselves against COVID-19.

A selection of our COVID-19 projects are highlighted below.

Our Region, Our People
South Side Medical protecting local community during winter season

Mackay-based general practice South Side Medical is using innovative methods to deal with the current busy winter season of COVID-19 and influenza and protect the safety of its patients.

Australia had record low flu numbers during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of influenza cases have increased rapidly this winter.

South Side Medical Practice Owner/Manager Kath O’Brien said the practice had utilised a separate area of the practice called ‘The Green Clinic’ throughout the COVID vaccination period, and has now continued its use as part of its winter strategy to care for patients.

“We have one doctor assigned to the Green Clinic, which has got its own external entrance and extraction fan to improve air quality,” she said.

“Every patient is screened when they book an appointment at our practice, and if they do online appointments, they are screened through the online booking app.

“If we think they could be potentially infected, they're still able to be seen physically but it means we can examine them safely through the Green Clinic and not risk exposure to other patients.

“It takes a lot of pressure off our receptionists, and we can give our patients a safe option.”

Kath believes the Green Clinic and similar models of care will become the normal way of delivering services through general practice.

“We think that it works really well, and the patients themselves are also understanding how important it is,” she said.

All systems associated with the clinic are automated such as booking, checking in when they arrive, and collection of payment, and to ensure no unnecessary contact is made with the unwell patient.

E-scripts are utilised as well as e-ordering for pathology and radiology, and patients are able to wait in their car until the doctor is ready or alternatively take a seat outside in the fresh air.

“There is a lot of anxiety and concern out there in the community, especially now we’re into winter and the viruses which are circulating,” said Kath.

“The patient could be infectious with flu or COVID, and if you infect the doctors and the staff, they have to take a week off and it reduces the capacity for them to see patients.

“We’re also protecting our other patients that are vulnerable from something else that could potentially harm them, and most of our patients are very familiar with our system so it's actually become part of the language with our regular patients.

“In the beginning our patients were worried they wouldn't get an appointment.

“However, once we reassured them about our Green Clinic, it increased accessibility for them and just gave them an option where they could still see one of our doctors, but felt comfortable at the same time.”

The Green Clinic is not the only initiative developed by South Side Medical to ensure patient safety during the COVID pandemic and into this year’s winter season.

“The other initiative that we've had for a long time is a designated waiting room for parents of newborns, specifically set up for babies,” Ms O’Brien said.

“Our mums love it, as their babies, especially those too young to be vaccinated, are not sitting in the general waiting room exposed to people.

“The rooms are fitted out with comfortable chairs for feeding, a change table, and closable door for privacy.

“This has helped us retain our high vaccination rates for our children, and patients are reassured their babies are safe in the waiting rooms and makes the new mums and dads feel a little bit special as well.”

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Key projects

COVID-19 response

To deliver the most efficient and effective distribution and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine, general practice, GP Respiratory Clinics, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), and pharmacies were tasked with the frontline primary care delivery of a safe and efficient vaccine rollout.  

NQPHN continued to support and coordinate vaccine onboarding and delivery between primary care and ACCHOs for the benefit of our communities, while also promoting access to pharmacies for vaccinations.  

Key successes relating to COVID-19 vaccination included:  

  • RACF Christmas Blitz (in-reach COVID-19 vaccinations): NQPHN commissioned a vaccination provider to deliver in-reach vaccination clinics to 16 Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) across the region with 255 vaccinations administered. More than 130 residents were vaccinated – these residents would not have been vaccinated without this initiative.
  • Rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in general practice: This included onboarding and reporting, and distribution of regular COVID-19 vaccination updates as per Department of Health and Aged Care’s (DoHACs) instructions.  
  • Under five vaccination campaign: A cross-jurisdictional, cross-agency, cross-PHN campaign, including development and distribution of 10,000 postcards summarising COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for under five-year-olds for distribution to general practices, ACCHOs, and disability providers.    
  • Supporting rural communities’ access to COVID-19 vaccinations: For example, with the withdrawal of Queensland Health vaccination clinics in September 2022, the population of Clermont, including RACF residents, were left with no access to COVID vaccinations. NQPHN, in partnership with Isaac Regional Council, local general practices, local pharmacies, and DoHAC, coordinated and funded a series of vaccination clinics in Clermont leading up to Christmas 2022, with 73 vaccinations delivered by a commissioned vaccine provider.  

Key successes relating to other COVID-19 initiatives included:  

  • $775,000 in grants distributed: This increased capacity and capability required by general practice in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to position general practice to better respond to disasters and emergences (155 grants over a six-week period).  
  • Monthly contact with all 65 RACFs across North Queensland with more than 425 individual contacts occurring with these facilities.  
  • Commissioned home visits for people affected by COVID-19 which saw 81 home visits funded during this program, with the majority of patients being in RACFs.  
  • Winter Wellness campaign developed and distributed resources to support general practice, ACCHOs, and pharmacy.  
  • Primary care huddles co-facilitated four primary care huddles with Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service with 38 attendees.  
  • Developed and distributed three reports highlighting the outstanding work of general practice, pharmacy and residential aged care facilities (RACFs) in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic  
  • Funded music video in Yarrabah: The community and school children created a music video in local language to inspire healthier living and promote vaccination. Watch the music video, here.    
  • Indigenous health workers: Short-term employment of Indigenous Health Workers in community to develop and deliver localised COVID-19 information sessions. Resources developed in local language.  
  • NQPHN, in partnership with Gold Coast PHN, hosted and facilitated Queensland-wide Long COVID webinar which resulted in 124 attendees.    
  • Maintained COVID-19 website to support primary care access to validated sources.
Key statistics
COVID-19 vaccinations administered across 16 RACFs during the Christmas period
in grants distributed (155 grants over a six-week period)
commissioned home visits for people affected by COVID-19, with the majority of patients being in RACFs

General Practice Respiratory Clinics 

General Practice Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) in North Queensland continued to play a key role in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, administering age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.  

Key successes included:  

  • NQPHN continued to support the final two GPRC clinics in North Queensland, which both ceased operations on 30 March 2023. These two practices had been GPRCs for the full duration of the pandemic.  
  • NQPHN, on behalf of DoHAC, also distributed information regarding the GP-Led Respiratory Clinic Panel Approach to Market initiative.  

Read the GPRC Our Region, Our People story, here.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

The demand for and access to, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) continued to be a significant issue during the COVID-19 pandemic response, locally, nationally, and internationally. General practices, ACCHOs, and pharmacies needed to rapidly incorporate the use of PPE into all levels of their service delivery, from frontline reception to consultation. 

NQPHN continued to process a large volume of PPE orders from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) on behalf of the Department. The final distribution of PPE to primary care providers occurred in mid-December 2022. 

PPE included surgical masks, surgical gloves, P2/N95 masks, surgical gowns, medical goggles, face shields, bottles of hand sanitiser, and pulse oximeters. 

Key statistics
units of PPE dispatched to primary care providers across North Queensland


Working under a strategic communications plan, NQPHN acted as a key conduit and source of information for healthcare providers and the community throughout the response, vaccination, and Living with COVID phases of the pandemic, collaborating with federal, state, and local government, as well as non-government organisations, on delivering key messages to the primary care sector relating to the virus.

Key statistics
COVID-19-specific emails sent to GPs, pharmacies, RACFs, disability services, and other primary care providers
average open rate (industry average is 21.5%)
views relating to COVID-19 on the NQPHN website
unique page views
Most popular pages: COVID-19 information landing page (667 page views), Build Back Better Initiative news story (231 views), Testing patients for COVID-19 (159 views).
Extensive social media engagement with COVID-19 messaging and content:
Facebook posts
average engagement
average reach per post
Instagram posts
LinkedIn posts
Twitter posts

Our priority areas

System Integration