A milestone North Coast study of young people’s condom usage has won a national excellence award for a team of medical students undertaking clinical placements coordinated by the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast (UCRH).

The five University of Western Sydney students who conducted the 2016 study have since graduated and gone on to become doctors. The recipients of this year’s Health Specialist Medical Award sponsored by ANZ Health are Drs Daniel Brieger, Sukhita De Silva, Karina Hall, Benjamin Pfister and Daniel Youlden.

At the time they were undergoing a series of UCRH-coordinated clinical placements in the Northern Rivers. The then-students were encouraged to develop a research project by UCRH researcher Dr Sabrina Pit who helped them liaise with the North Coast Public Health Unit to conduct a face-to-face survey of people aged 18-29 years attending a North Coast music festival.

Dr Michael Gannon and Professor Bruce Robinson

Skyrocketing Medicare benefits payouts for after-hours doctor home visits have prompted a closer examination of the issue by the government’s Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce and drawn strong criticism by the Australian Medical Association

Key recommendations in the clinician-led Taskforce’s recent interim report Urgent after-hours primary care services funded through the MBS included:

  • restricting the use of the high value urgent after-hours items so that medical deputising service doctors and practitioners working predominantly in the after-hours period are excluded from billing these items
  • providing a clearer definition of what is considered to be urgent for the purposes of the MBS urgent after-hours items, including changing the requirement to ‘urgent assessment’ as opposed to ‘urgent treatment’
  • removing the current right of patients to make an urgent after-hours appointment two hours before the commencement of the after-hours period.

The NSW North Coast continues to buck the national trend for an increasing uptake of early childhood vaccination, with the proportion of our fully immunised five-year-olds (90.3 per cent) being the lowest in Australia. The Gold Coast fared only one per cent better.

Postcodes show an even grimmer picture, with Byron Shire’s rate of fully immunised five-year-olds, 73.2 per cent, being the lowest rural-regional figure in Australia.

The latest statistics in the Australia Institute for Health and Welfare report Healthy Communities: Immunisation rates for children in 2015-16  show that a total of 1867 children between the ages of one and five years living within the boundary of the North Coast Primary Health Network (Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie) remain unimmunised.  Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USMC-04975.jpg

Federal MP for Page Kevin Hogan, North Coast Primary Health Network CEO Dr Vahid Saberi, Dr Andrew Binns and Rekindling the Spirit CEO Greg Telford.

In a major boost for Aboriginal health and wellbeing in the Lismore area, a partnership has been formed between Rekindling the Spirit, which provides counselling and other support services, and Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS).

Jullums, previously managed by the federally-funded North Coast Primary Health Network, will become part of a broader, community-controlled health service. Both bodies will retain their current names and staff.

In one of the moving speeches that marked the celebratory event today (5 June 2017), Rekindling’s CEO Greg Telford said that life experiences and speaking with the Elders every day in his prayers had convinced him that if you “do the right thing, the right things happen.”

Maclean District Hospital’s new Rehabilitation Unit was officially opened on 2 June 2017 by the Federal MP for Page Kevin Hogan.

The Unit has 10-new purpose-built beds and will provide coordinated care from a multidisciplinary team that includes medical, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and social work.

“Previously, the nearest rehabilitation facilities were located in Coffs Harbour and Ballina, so this is a fantastic investment in the health of our growing population in the Clarence community,” Mr Hogan said.