The Man in the Red Coat

This learned and beautifully produced book delivers the story of Dr Samuel Pozzi, a pioneering gynaecologist, and two fellow bon vivants, into the hands of one of the finest contemporary novelists. This is Barnes’ eighth foray into non-fiction, helped by a heaven-sent character and a time in history, the Parisian Belle Epoque, when almost anything went.

The tale begins in the mid 1800s when what Barnes dubs a “strange trio” embarked on what they called an “intellectual shopping trip” to London. While luxury shopping was undertaken, and museums visited, carousing and debauchery were more often on the agenda.

The tale oscillates between the capitals of France and England, more often the former as the author explores the mores and social connections of the period, helped greatly by his passion for the French language and Gallic ways, which led to his being awarded the Legion d’honneur in 2017.


At the AGM of the Northern Rivers General Practice Network on 19 December 2019 it was resolved to widen the membership of the organisation to include all doctors from Tweed Heads to Grafton. The meeting also resolved to change its formal name to the Northern Rivers Medical Network (NSW) Limited and to trade under the name “Nordocs”.

The Board members of the organisation are Nathan Kesteven, David Guest, Bronwyn Hudson, Louise Imlay-Gillespie, Joe Gormally and Trafford Fehlberg. While the Board is composed of three GPs and three specialists it is planned to widen its membership to include representation by doctors in training and other practitioners from outside the Richmond Valley.

The new direction for the organisation was outlined by Chairman, Dr Nathan Kesteven, in his Annual Report for 2019 with the focus in the coming year being on communication and education of medical practitioners on the North Coast.

Bali- building bamboo

As the accompanying photos show, the Indonesian island of Bali is still an extraordinarily beautiful place, despite the endlessly negative stories about the behaviour of foreign tourists, including plenty of Australians, around coastal resort areas such as Kuta and Legian.

I’m more aware of this than most, having visited Bali in 1971 on the way back to my then-hometown of Hong Kong and being the only… read that again, the only, foreigner on Kuta beach to view the wondrous sinking of the afternoon sun into the sea. Now that spectacle must be shared with thousands of tourists gathered on beanbags outside bars blaring reggae, the Rolling Stones, whatever, over huge speakers, with collective cheering when the sun sets.

The Redgum song “I’ve been to Bali too”, released in 1984, implied that one visit to Bali would be enough, that box was ticked, but for me too much Bali has never been enough, assuming you stick to the best places, Ubud in the hills being prime amongst them, and avoid the rest.

JFPP students Ruben and Clare with Dr Alastair McInnes

The Clarence Valley Regional Training Hub has partnered with the Clarence Health Service and the NSW Rural Doctors Network to support the return of John Flynn Placement Program (JFPP) students to the Clarence Valley region. Students from the University of Wollongong, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of New England and University of New South Wales had the opportunity to undertake clinical placements at Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) from November 2019 through to January 2020.

These students were very pleased to have had the chance to experience clinical training in the emergency department of GBH under the guidance of JFPP mentor Dr Alastair McInnes. GBH has diverse presentations that enable the students to observe the team managing everything from run of the mill ailments to retrievals.

chemist shelves

Patient satisfaction with GPs continues to rate highly, with 94 per cent of Australian adults thinking their doctor shows respect for what they say, and 91 per cent saying their GP always or often spends enough time with them.

Evidently the primary care being provided is serving the purpose, with 86 per cent of adults reporting their health to be excellent, very good or good. Some 81 per cent of all adults had seen a GP in the past year, according to the 2017-2018 patient experience figures released by the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare.

Less pleasing is the high number of people who say high costs mean they avoid or delay filling a prescription and need to put off visiting the dentist.
In some parts of metro and regional areas the decision to delay filling a prescription has risen by up to 50 per cent over the past three years, the AIHW found. This is despite PBS subsidies for most prescribed medications.