After many years of complaints from GPs about the problems associated with paper based reporting, the North Coast BreastScreen Service is to trial an electronic system.

According to Nick Astone, Patient Clinical Information Manager for BreastScreen NSW North Coast, the next version of their information system will contain a GP electronic messaging facility.

Faster processing of abnormal and equivocal reports will reduce both the psychological and physical morbidity of breast screening and will be welcomed by patients and GPs alike.

Federal Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon Dr David Gillespie

Federal parliament has passed legislation for the appointment of a new National Rural Health Commissioner who will act as a “champion for rural health and the doctors, nurses and allied health workers who care for those living in these communities,” according to Port Macquarie MP and Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie.

“Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner will be an independent and high-profile advocate for regional, rural and remote health,” Dr Gillespie said, calling it an “important milestone that delivers on the Federal Coalition’s election commitment to address shortfalls in medical and health professionals in rural, regional and remote areas.”

The Commissioner will also consider the nursing, dental health, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery and allied health needs in regional, rural and remote Australia, he added.

Easter Island photo by Ruth Tinker

Dr Ruth Tinker explores Easter Island’s ‘monumental history’

One of the great things about travelling is learning about other peoples and places.  I recently visited one of the most fascinating of places - Easter Island. History argues about when the Rapa Nui arrived on the remote Pacific island. Legend says that chief Hotu Matu’a led his extended family there in a few canoes between 200 and 300 AD.

 Radiocarbon dating suggests 700 AD as a better date, while some scientists believe it could be as late as 1200 AD.
The island, which is a triangle roughly 23 km by 11km, is extremely isolated even today.  It is five hours flying time from Chile, and almost as far from Tahiti.  The nearest island community is Pitcairn Island, a town of 50 souls, which is 2000 km away.


The people flourished, farming and using large log canoes to fish off shore. The population probably peaked at around 15,000. The people brought bananas, taro and chickens with them but also, unfortunately, rats.

Anaesthesia Kate Cole-Adams (Text 405pp)

Not everyone goes to ‘sleep’ under a general anaesthetic, as Kate Cole-Adams concerningly informs us, while many people taking to their nightly bed have a similar problem with wakefulness, as American sleep expert Dr W. Chris Winter explains.

Superficially there may seem slight connection between induced unconsciousness and tucking in at night, yet the similarities are irresistible to explore, not least the potentially serious, even traumatic, health impacts of ineffective anaesthesia and insomnia.

The former’s work is the result of many years’ research and experience, written not by a health professional but by a (highly regarded) journalist, and blends the history of anaesthesia with an account of patients, including herself, who have experienced it in various ways, not always positively.

The latter’s, sub-titled ‘Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It’, appears to be a self-help book, although it is just as relevant to professionals, with a variety of clinical content.

The Case Against Fragrance - By Kate Grenville (Text 208 pp)

Highly regarded Australian author Kate Grenville (The Idea of Perfection, The Secret River, etc) would have been incensed - the relevance of the word will soon become apparent - to have seen a recent liftout in The Australian Financial Review badged ‘The Scent Issue 2017’.

There, in page after page of glamorous stories, the virtues of the world’s famous perfumiers were extolled from every angle. Fragrances were divided into categories - floral, oriental, woods, fresh and aromatic fougères, the last being the ‘coming together of all elements’ - and brands slotted into each.

Gucci’s Bamboo, for instance, is “woody and floral, with notes of Casablanca lily, sandalwood and Tahitian vanilla”.

While those who formulate, manufacture, write about and wear these scents are enthusiastic in the extreme, Kate Grenville would be sickened by each and every one of them, quite literally.