South Australia’s Viral Hepatitis Nurses are clinical practice consultants who work with patients in the community, general practice or hospital setting. They provide a link between public hospital specialist services and general practice, and give specialised support to general practitioners (GPs) to assist in the management of patients with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
With advanced knowledge and skills in testing, management and treatment of viral hepatitis, they assist with the management of patients on antiviral medications, and work in shared care arrangements and support GPs who are prescribing medications for hepatitis C, or those accredited to prescribe section 100 medications for hepatitis B.
The viral hepatitis nurses also work closely with community organisations to promote awareness of viral hepatitis and engage with hard to reach population groups such as people from non-English speaking cultural backgrounds, the homeless and injecting drug users.
In the past two years, these community nurses have provided liver fibroscans to hundreds of people at community-based venues and in prisons and through that started many on hepatitis C treatment, who would otherwise not have done so.
The viral hepatitis nurses are located across the Adelaide metropolitan area and support can also be arranged for people in country areas. They can be contacted directly by patients or by their GP.
Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Phone: Margery (0423 782 415) or Debbie/Rose (0401 717 953)
Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Royal Adelaide Hospital
Phone: Anton (7074 2194 or 0401 125 361)
Northern Adelaide Local Health Network
Phone: Lucy (0401 717 971) or Michelle (0413 285 476)
Southern Adelaide Local Health Network
Phone: Rosalie (0466 777 876) or Jeff (0466 777 873)
Referral of viral hepatitis notifications
The South Australian Public Health Act 2011 requires medical practitioners and diagnostic laboratories to notify SA Health of cases (including deaths) suspected of having or diagnosed with specified infections and diseases. These infections or diseases are commonly referred to as ‘notifiable conditions’, and include hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
From August 2018, the Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB) has routinely referred notifications of positive hepatitis C pathology tests to SA Health Viral Hepatitis Clinical Practice Consultants, enabling these specialist nurses to contact GPs diagnosing a patient with hepatitis C, and if required by the GP, provide support for patient follow up with guideline based care, including hepatitis C treatment. From June 2019, the CDCB will now do the same for positive hepatitis B pathology tests.
Patients may also self-refer, and can contact the Hepatitis SA Helpline on 1800 437 222 for more information or visit https://hepatitissa.asn.au/hep-b-take-action and https://hepatitissa.asn.au/hep-c-get-cured for information about testing and treatment.
Images courtesy of Lisa Carter (header image, viral hepatitis nurse Lucy, WHD photo shoot) and SA Health (Viral hepatitis nurses Jeff and Margery)