Dr Jayne Ingham, North Lakes GP and Chair of GPpartners,

Dr Jayne Ingham* discusses how the government’s process for the tendering and commissioning of primary health care services - in this case, mental health services - may not be for the benefit of Australian GPs or their patients.

Our GP Network, GPpartners, like that in the Northern Rivers, is a former division of General Practice which following the national restructure process (Medicare Locals, Primary Health Networks) has continued to function as an entity. GPpartners supports our local GPs with advocacy, relevant education (non-Drug company usually) and other assistance.. Over the years it is fair to say that our local GPs have come to appreciate us.

When we learnt about the change of funding for the Mental Health Nurses working in several practices in our area, and received an approach from nurses concerned about the funding and model changes, our GP network decided to enter the world of bureaucracy and tender for provision of the Mental Health Nurse program in our area.

PTSD image

Two new research studies focusing on the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on Australian defence personnel who have served overseas show that the physical impacts are as great as the psychological ones.

Yet this link is often unrecognised, or under-estimated, by health care professionals, they suggest.

Health problems found to be triggered by PTSD include loss of appetite, unintended weight gain, muscle aches and pains, breathlessness, obstructive sleep apnoea, unusual sleep behaviours and restless legs syndrome.

Night’s Watchmans and the White Walkers - Game of Thrones

"... and winter is coming" are the ominous words first uttered by Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, in the opening scenes of Game of Thrones. Such words were well heeded by Napoleon in Russia in 1812, if not by Hitler in 1941, and now, in a similarly invasive, if less violent, context, by health custodians of the NSW Far North Coast in 2017.

The Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD), in conjunction with the North Coast Primary Health Network, local Aboriginal Medical Services and General Practices, is on a quest before this year’s winter sets in.

Each April/May sees a spike in patients attending general practices to receive influenza, pneumonia and other vaccines. Many practices attempt to cope with this increased load by running clinics for their most susceptible patients. Most Aboriginal people and all people aged over 65 qualify for free vaccinations.

Dr Richard Buss

In a situation said to be replicated across NSW, clinical communications between the public health system and general practice about mental health patients/clients is less than ideal.

However, the various shortcomings, including systemic issues, have now been identified, and a range of steps is being taken, or planned, in order to provide continuous care for both acute patients and those in the community setting.

This is the message to GPs from the Director of Mental Services for the Northern NSW Local Health District, Dr Richard Buss, who discussed the situation with GP Speak recently.

Maddy Braddon and Lorraine Tasker from Helping Hands  Lismore

According to many people affected by Lismore’s catastrophic flooding on 31 March, as well as others with long-time memories of local flood events, it wasn’t the 1-in-10 year levee bank that let the city down.

Rather, they say, it was the various tiers of officialdom that should have provided more consistent information about the chances of inundation and a timetable for remedial measures such as saving home and business contents, and an orderly evacuation.

As it happened, the previously unbreached levee looked increasingly likely to over-top, yet many residents and businesses were still being told the flooding would probably be minor, and the levee would repel the floodwaters.