A doctor exacting payment for a house-call from a disgruntled patient. Lithograph by H.W. Bunbury.

Following recommendations by the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce the federal government is moving to reduce expenditure on often-notionally urgent after-hours home visits by doctors, which increased by 157 per cent between 2010–11 and 2016–17. 

Announcing the changes, Health Minister Greg Hunt said, “There is no clinical explanation for the large increase, but rather the growth has been driven by a corporate model of largely advertising on the basis of convenience, rather than medical need.”

The changes are in response to concerns raised by GPs that some doctors who are not GPs are providing urgent after-hours care, and that some treatments being claimed as urgent are not genuinely urgent. 

The minister explained that the Taskforce found access to urgent after-hours care should be used “only when necessary and that funding should be appropriate to the level of care being provided.” 

Depression by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

‘Culture’ and ‘compassion’ were the key themes raised in the final report of the National Forum on Reducing Risk of Suicide in the Medical Profession, released at the end of December 2017

The forum was convened in September by the AMA and Doctors’ Health Services Pty Ltd (DrHS), a subsidiary of the AMA that is funded by the Medical Board of Australia.

The report records the considerations and recommendations of the 82 doctors nominated by key medical stakeholder organisations who attended the forum.

Under the microscope were the individual, organisational, and environmental issues seen to impact negatively on the emotional health and wellbeing of doctors.

Social Futures are seeking GPs for their family planning service in Lismore and Kyogle. The service offers women’s health and reproductive consultations, pregnancy and contraception advice (including an IUCD service), and STI checks.

Choices (formerly called the Family Planning Service) focuses on the needs of low-income families and bulk bills all consultations. The service was formed more than 30 years ago and many local female GPs have staffed the centre over the years.

On Thursday, 14 December 2017 the Northern Rivers General Practice Network is holding an evening meeting to discuss opportunities and potential new services for North Coast doctors. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. immediately following the NRGPN Annual General Meeting and will last for one hour.

Our presenters will each have 10 minutes to briefly outline their projects and there will be time at the end of the meeting for follow up questions and general discussion.

John Langill and Dr Chris Jambor from the North Coast GP Training kick off the evening with a talk about educational opportunities for North Coast doctors. It is envisaged that by leveraging NRGPN resources we will be able to get local talks and presentations to a wider audience than currently occurs.

Final year medical students at the University of Wollongong have presented a painting by well-known Bundjalung artist Noel ‘Charlie’ Caldwell to their alma mater as a token of their appreciation.

Farewelling the university by presenting a gift has become a UOW tradition. Having thought long and hard about the most appropriate item, the students, many of whom had undertaken practicum training in the Northern Rivers, settled on an original creation from Bundjalung Country.

‘Goanna’ will be hung in a prominent place at the University to ensure maximum viewing of this wonderful work. 

Charlie Caldwell, who comes from Casino, has been painting since he was 15 and draws his inspiration from his Aboriginal heritage. He has also been a mural artist for local schools. In his artist profile at Jambama Arts Centre in Casino he is quoted as saying “painting is a big part of my life and I’ll never stop painting till I die”.