A comprehensive new report on the makeup of general practice in Australia has found that while GPs continue to play a critical role in the health sector they face “significant challenges due to funding and demographic changes in the medical workforce”.

Notable factors include falling GP job satisfaction, which could hurt GP recruitment and retention; a trend for larger practices and corporate ownership; declining real Medicare funding per GP and new funding models such as Health Care Homes due to commence in July 2017; and a continuing rise in the number of doctors choosing to specialise rather than enter general practice.

The ANZ, Melbourne Institute Health Sector Report on general practice from the University of Melbourne analyses 10 years of the latest available public data about general practice as well as a custom designed study, the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life survey of doctors. 

NNSW Richmond Clarence Health Service Group GM Lynne Weir with one of the five large-capacity birthing baths in the new Women’s Care Unit.

Today (1 May) it felt like visiting the brand new hospital-with-no-patients that featured in the legendary ‘Yes Minister’ program.

From tomorrow, however, things will be much busier as Lismore Base Hospital’s purpose-built Women’s Care Unit begins to fill up with expecting mothers, parents with newborns and staff who have been eagerly awaiting their impressive new workspace.

The facility, described by Local Health District’s Richmond Clarence Health Service Group, Lynne Weir, as “a giant leap forward for women’s care in the area”, is the latest floor to open as part of LBH’s $180M Stage 3B redevelopment.

As part of a $5.7 million Federal government package to address drug and alcohol misuse in the Northern Rivers, the residential facility the Buttery near Bangalow is being funded to provide a new service aimed at helping methamphetamine (‘ice’) users to address their dependency on the damaging drug.

To be known as Dayhab the free program will deliver community-based services between Lismore, Byron Bay and Tweed Heads.

Save the Date to Vaccinate website

Both the Federal and NSW governments are launching campaigns to improve immunisation rates, with the Northern Rivers being a key priority area.

Canberra will spend $5.5M on a national awareness campaign aimed at convincing reluctant parents to vaccinate their children. Health Minister Greg Hunt said areas with low vaccination rates will be “specifically targeted”.

The national childhood immunisation rate stands at 93 per cent, but the coverage is much lower in a range of Northern Rivers postcodes, notably around the Byron Shire hinterland.

This has prompted NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to launch a million dollar campaign to boost rates across the state, particularly targeting parents in northern NSW who he said are “failing to safeguard their children by vaccinating”.

The 2017 Save the Date to Vaccinate campaign started on 24 April as part of World Immunisation Week.

“Northern NSW and in particular the north coast have the lowest vaccination rates in Australia,” Minister Hazzard said.

Page MP Kevin Hogan with Uncle Harry Walker Mundine at the official opening of the Djanangmum Health Clinic in Casino.

The future primary health care needs of the Richmond Valley’s Indigenous community will be well served by the new Djanangmum Health Clinic, a federally-funded facility that was officially opened today.

Doing the honours was the Federal MP for Page, Kevin Hogan who said the $4.7 million clinic replaces the previous facility that was in rented premises and did not meet the needs of health workers or the community.

Djanangmum Health Clinic is operated by the Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation. It will provide primary health care services, preventative health programs, dietician/nutritionist services, child and adult dental services, mental health case management, alcohol and other drug counselling and sexual health programs.

Mr Hogan added, “This clinic will help improve the health and life expectancy, as well as early childhood health and development, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community.”