Professor Bruce Robinson

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. This aphorism is attributed to the founder of the first major American department store, John Wanamaker. It might be argued that the same can be said of medical care.

The Medical Benefits Review Taskforce (the Robinson Review) is drawing to a close. Set up in 2015 by then Health Minister, Sussan Ley, at the suggestion of the Dean of The University of Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson, the review has aimed to modernise and rationalise the 5700 odd items on the Australian Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS).

Many of the item numbers had not been reviewed in over 30 years, were outdated or redundant, or just sufficiently vague as to being open to “innovative” interpretation.

Dr Sally Butchers with dance teachers, Martin and Heather Elphinstone

Having family, friends and patients going through their cancer journeys I am very happy to support the wonderful work of the Cancer Council, which raises money to help patients in many different ways and to help fund research with the aim of a cancer free future.

Less spontaneous, for a surgeon who hasn’t danced properly for 30 years, was accepting an invitation for this year’s Dance for Cancer in Lismore. The decision was both exciting and scary, but I soon found myself in the hands of amazing teachers -  thank you to Martin and Heather Elphinstone. They have taken me from being a dance leader, the largest in my long-ago ballet class, to being a follower - no easy task. They have also taken me into the amazing world of Cuban dancing, such an elegant style and so much fun to do.

Nordocs organisers - Louise Imlay-Gillespie, Sabine Ringowski, Angela Bettess and David Guest

The topics were as diverse as could be imagined, ranging from life as a JMO on the Northern Rivers to medical cannabis and a surgical aid program in Timor Leste (East Timor) involving doctors from Australia, Cuba and China.

The second annual NORDOCS gathering received sponsorship from the Northern NSW Local Health District and the North Coast Primary Health Network, with the Lismore venue being provided by the University Centre for Rural Health. It was held under the barrier-less “unconference” format

The 30 attendees also heard about the history of the local medical fraternity from 1866, the challenges of rural surgical training, managing obstructive sleep apnoea, the prospects (and challenges) of greater longevity, lifestyle medicine and modern stroke management.

NorDocs, the Northern Rivers group of doctors that discusses local medical matters on its FaceBook page, is holding its second forum on 1 June 2019 at UCRH, Lismore, opposite Lismore Base Hospital. The forum will run from 9 am to 5 pm.

The conference is based on the Unconference format where many of the delegates are also the presenters. This format provides the flexibility for participants to present and discuss matters that are of interest to them. These may be small items or short lived issues that would not normally attract the attention of larger medical organisations like Primary Health Networks or Local Hospital Districts.

Dr Chris Lowry

North Coast anaesthetist, Chris Lowry, has been awarded the Order of Australia in the recent Australia Day Honours list.

Dr Lowry is a former Director of Anaesthesia at Lismore Base Hospital as well as a past Director of Clinical Training for Junior Medical Officers and a past Anaesthetics Training Supervisor. He has been heavily involved in training LBH residents and registrars over many years and as testament to this work some of his former students have returned to the area as consultant anaesthetists.

Dr Lowry has a long standing interest in underwater medicine which he first developed when he joined the Navy  in his medical student days in Sydney. He subsequently served with the Navy for four years full time then subsequently as a reservist. After leaving the navy he trained as an anaesthetist. Her was a VMO at Royal North Shore Hospital before coming to the North Coast in 1992.