PhD candidate, Catherine Helps

Research has begun on a PhD study aimed at exploring why a greater number than the national average of Northern Rivers parents, especially those in Byron Shire, choose not to vaccinate their children.

North Coast NSW statistics show immunisation rates for one, two and five-year olds are less than most other areas in Australia, although not dramatically so 

While these 2011-12 figures will be updated soon, the results are not expected to vary significantly.

However, the breakdown by local postcodes shows significantly higher non-vaccination rates in Byron Shire 

Beach Study 2015 now available

The latest results of Australia’s longest running study of general practice activity has found that older Australians account for the nation’s highest use of primary care resources, and the proportion they are using is increasing over time.

However, the money is well spent, lowering overall health care costs by reducing expensive specialist and hospital visits, and contributing to greater longevity.

Noting that in any one year, about 85 per cent of the population makes at least one contact with a GP, The University of Sydney’s Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) analysis focused closely on the highest users of GP services - older Australians.

This article was first published on Dr Kruys' blog on 30/10/2015.

It has been described as the holy grail of healthcare: the patient at the centre and the care team working seamlessly together, no matter where the team members are located, what tribe they belong to or who their paymaster is.

Integration has been talked about for many years. The fact that it’s high on the current political agenda means that there’s still a lot to wish for. Although we have high quality healthcare services, our patients tell us that their journey through the system is everything but smooth. Most health professionals are painfully aware of the shortcomings in the the system.

 Dr Chris Mitchell

“I believe the Government’s focus is now on saving money rather than delivering excellence” - Dr Chris Mitchell

The federal government’s decision to appoint a Sydney-based organization, GP Synergy, to manage all GP registrar training in NSW, including the Northern Rivers, has disappointed a number of Northern Rivers GPs, although they realise the decision cannot be reversed.

Many of these concerned GPs believe the tender was awarded on the basis of outright cost rather than the ratio of service quality to running costs - in short, that it was little more than a ‘Canberra cost cutting exercise’, as one put it.

Among the concerned doctors is long-time local Chris Mitchell who says his practice will not take further registrars after 1 January 2016 when the new contract comes into operation.

Image cc-by-sa 3.0

While the broader efficacy of the new shingles vaccine may not be gauged for some time, trials have delivered encouraging results, which is good news for GPs at the forefront of managing a debilitating condition that will take an ever-greater toll as our population ages.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research says 20-30 per cent of Australians will have shingles in their lifetime. It is estimated that by the age of 85, one in two people will have experienced the illness, which unlike its relation varicella can recur.

GPs, patients and family members are no strangers to the devastating impact of post herpetic neuralgia (PHN), with the associated chronic pain, physical disability and depression.

With this in mind it is pleasing to see that the National Immunisation Program for shingles will commence in November 2016 for all Australians aged 70 years, with a catch up program for those 71-79 years.