“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..

After a long period of development GP2GP was finally released in New Zealand in 2012. GP2GP is an electronic patient record transfer system allowing patient files to be transferred from practice to practice when patients transfer to a new General Practitioner. Each transfer can, in theory, be completed in near real time but generally at our practice files are transferred or received within 48 hours of the initial transfer request.

The driving force behind the development of GP2GP was to provide a way of transferring notes that was secure and provided better continuity of care. It also avoids using transfers of paper notes or the use of CDs and memory sticks, which are all equally insecure and rely on the postal system for their movement from practice to practice. It also saves valuable time for administrators and clinicians alike.

North Coast Radiology, the leading provider of Medical imaging services within the Northern Rivers region, recently invested in a new MRI service for their Ballina Rooms. In an effort to make the new state of the art facility as welcoming for patients as possible, they commissioned local photographer Dane Hodkinson of DB Hodkinson Photography to capture some local landmarks to put on the wall.