"We were caught In the middle of a railroad track,
I looked round and I knew there was no turning back"

AC/DC, Thunderstruck

The principal activities of our Network are the publication of GPSpeak magazine, the issuing of its associated electronic newsletters and regular maintenance of the website. The Network's media strategy allows it to fulfil its constitutional objectives of fostering communication between Members and to promulgate the views of North Coast general practitioners to other members of the health profession and to the general public.

The Northern Rivers General Practice Network (NRGPN) made a $20,000 loss this year, mostly from the addition of a hard copy version of GPSpeak, published at the start of each season, to the existing online magazine. The paper magazine is sent to all medical practitioners in the Tweed and Richmond valleys and to specialists on the lower Gold Coast. In the future we will also distribute to allied health practitioners and pharmacists in our area.

The magazine has increased in size with the upcoming Summer 2015-2016 edition being 36 pages. Advertising revenue has been growing steadily and we are projecting running costs will become less of a drain on the Network's finances in the coming year.

GPSpeak remains the only independent media outlet covering health issues on the North Coast. This is only made possible through the support of our sponsors and advertisers. I would particularly like to thank our accountants and major sponsor, Thomas Noble and Russell, for their help and advice over the last 12 months. I am also very appreciative of the support we have received from Sullivan Nicolaides and Partners, not only in their role as sponsors, but also in delivering the magazine to North Coast medical practitioners. 

As members would know, the NCML was the successful tenderer for the new Primary Health Network in our area. The North Coast PHN (NCPHN) commenced operations on 1 July 2015. Our contract with the NCML for administrative support ended on 1 April 2015 but the NCPHN has generously continued to support the Network through the provision of Leanne Tully as our part time administrative officer. Leanne has had the unenviable task of corralling busy GPs into meetings and teleconferences and has done so with grace and patience. We truly appreciate her dedication. 

This month the Network welcomes Luissa Everingham to the newly created position of NRGPN financial administrator. Her skills will put the Network and GPSpeak on a sound financial footing and allow the Board to direct its attention to new services and activities for Members and for the improvement of health care in our area.

Financial issues dominate the public and health discourse at this time and will come into increasing focus over the next 10 months in the lead up the 2016-17 Budget, and later, the Federal election. Reduced funding for PHNs, GP training and GP rebates may be justified as efficiency measures but this approach may well prove counter-productive.

The Network and GPSpeak will continue to advocate in the community and liaise with and lobby our politicians, Federal and State, for a strong primary health care sector as the best way to achieve a sustainable, yet equitable, health system. 

David Guest
Chairman 2015