Map Northern Rivers

A detailed study of the availability of GP care in northern NSW* has found that while the area has high rates of chronic illness and an ageing population, there is limited access to an affordable, same-day GP appointment.

The study found that less than half of potential new patients would be able to see a doctor on the same day if they rang the practice that morning. There would be even less chance if their requirement was to access a female GP, according to the study ‘Actual availability of appointments at general practices in regional New South Wales, Australia’, published in the latest issue of the journal Australian Family Physician.

Improving the availability of primary healthcare services would benefit both patients and the public health budget by reducing the “non-urgent use of emergency department services”.

Working from a list provided by the North Coast Primary Health Network the researchers engaged a professional interviewer to contact all 184 medical practices in 12 local government areas ranging from Tweed Heads to Coffs Harbour, including inland locations such as Kyogle, Tenterfield and Bellingen.

Dr Jane Barker

Dr Jane Barker looks at rising suicide rates among the young doctor population and urges the medical profession to be more active in addressing this mounting crisis.

The death of a young person through suicide is a tragedy leaving family and friends devastated, and the medical fraternity is again reeling from more reports of the suicides of young trainees. In 2015, we have learned, three trainee psychiatrists took their own lives in Victoria. While investigations were announced, any changes that have been made did not prevent the deaths of a further three trainees this year, this time in NSW, Sadly, these are only the ones we are hearing about.

Dr Nigel Chamberlain

On Anzac Day 2017 Dr Nigel Chamberlain, a General Practitioner in Alstonville for over 30 years, died as a result of complications from a devastating cycling accident in September 2014.

Nigel, aged 62, was well known and highly regarded by his patients, community and colleagues in the Northern Rivers.

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.