Construction teams working with contractor Brookfield Multiplex are rapidly transforming the site.

The chosen 6 hectare site at Ewingsdale, on the approach road to Byron Bay, is being rapidly transformed into the new Byron Central Hospital (BCH), scheduled to be opened by mid-2016.

The enabling and early works stage has included the completion of internal road base preparation, site in-ground drainage, bulk excavation and cut/fill, and installation of temporary site sheds.

More than 15,000 cubic metres of earthworks have been completed, and over 1,500m of stormwater pipe installed to date.

Taking shape is a new facility to replace the smaller hospitals in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby, estimated to cost $80M. Its aesthetic design incorporates a range of enviro-friendly features.

Services to be offered will include 24-hour emergency attention, with 14 ED acute treatment spaces; 43 overnight inpatient beds; low-risk maternity services, 20-bed, non-acute mental health unit; X-ray, ultrasound, CT, and OPG (dental imaging); 4-chair dental service, 4-chair chemotherapy unit, and ambulatory care services.

There will be expanded ambulatory clinic space for visiting medical services, allied health and community health clinics, plus co-location of community and allied health.

BCH will have over 2,400 power points and 700 data points, and some 102,000m of communications cabling and 95,000m of power cabling.

The construction contractor, Brookfield Multiplex, has a strong commitment to Aboriginal participation in its workforce, and using local contractors wherever possible.

MONA Art Gallery

Rapidly establishing a reputation as a focus of creativity – think David Walsh’s MONA gallery, Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize win, and global awards for its single-malt whiskies – Tasmania is hosting a major conference on health system innovation.

The focus of the ‘Sustainable Healthcare Transformation’ conference in Hobart from 18-20 March is the improvement of hospital performance in Tasmania, nationally and globally.

Amongst the high-flying presenters are Sir Robert Naylor, Chief Executive of University College London Hospitals, knighted for services to UK health care, Professor Chris Baggoley AO, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Anthony Moorhouse, CEO of emergency management firm operating Dynamiq, and well-known spokesperson on youth matters, Holly Ransom.

An ‘on-the-couch’ panel session with key speakers will be hosted by former ABC North Coast station manager, and popular breakfast host, Martin Corben.

“I am currently travelling the country listening carefully to GPs and patients and taking the opportunity to have frank and fearless discussions about constructive ways to protect Medicare for the long term.”

Seldom, if ever, has a new Health Minister started their incumbency with such a statement, but we live in unusual times, not least because Sussan Ley (“Lee”) hails from a rural electorate and is female. Indeed, she is just the second woman in the Abbott inner cabinet, joining Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

The reshuffle of that cabinet in late December 2014 saw the appointment of Ms Ley as a replacement for the much-criticised Peter Dutton, who kept the portfolio after being shadow minister before the Coalition’s 2013 victory.

Sussan Ley is the federal Member for the rural electorate of Farrar, named after William James Farrer, the father of the Australian wheat industry. Fortunately, as her patch covers 250,000 square kilometres of NSW, her skills include piloting aircraft (along with air traffic controlling, farming and tax accountancy).

The immense challenges of the portfolio, compounded by the contentious nature of health service delivery, was highlighted at the time her appointment was announced, with the AMA slamming the government’s handling of the Medicare funding issue.

Before long the Minister had cut short her holiday and returned to the political fray to announce that the $7.00 GP co-payment proposed in the now-shaky 2013-14 Budget was to be shelved.

By late January she had embarked on a round of ongoing consultations with GPs and their representative groups about “protecting Medicare for the long-term”.

She said no deadline had been placed on this process because the government wished to get a “fully representative view” from all relevant groups.

Hope – A Cancer Doctor’s Life Secrets by David Schlect & Damian Mason

Book Review - Hope – A Cancer Doctor’s Life Secrets

by David Schlect & Damian Mason

Reviewed by Robin Osborne

The initial print run of this work was sponsored by Genesis CancerCare Queensland, and a second edition is on the cards if people heed the advice of Dr Bev Rowbotham, director of haemotology for SNP in Brisbane: “At last, the distilled wisdom that makes good doctors into great doctors… Buy two copies of this wonderful book – one for yourself and one for your doctor.”

Dr David Schlect is a consultant radiation oncologist at The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, and co-author Damian Mason is a graduate psychologist and radiation therapist who has worked in cancer care for twenty years.

They have combined their skills and experience, added a strong dose of compassion, and produced a valuable guide to help people with a cancer diagnosis maximise the quality of their lives.

In early 2015 Pathology North will be upgrading its information systems. As a result there will be a new mechanism to distribute electronic reports to general practitioners and specialists.

Pathology North has chosen Healthlink as a secure and robust messaging provider already widely used by North Coast medical practitioners. Once installed Healthlink will receive results from Pathology North's systems for incorporation into the practices' electronic medical records.

As part of the change reports will be distributed in HL7 format rather than the now outdated PIT format. This allows the data to be processed at a low level enabling data manipulation and processing. Tracking biochemical parameters like HbA1c over time can improve patient management. The system also facilitates acknowledgement of the receipt of the report an important issue for pathology laboratories' requirements.

The transition to Healthlink is expected to be seamless for current users. Practices who already have a Healthlink account do not need to make any changes.

The installation of the Healthlink software is simple and is performed by Healthlink technicians through a remote session on the practice's computer systems. Practices using Pathology North that do not have a Healthlink account can expect a call from a Healthlink representative to arrange a convenient time for the software installation.

Brett Simm, the IT Services Manager of Pathology North, can also assist practices with questions about the new arrangements. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..