Rainbow YES

After previously holding a neutral position on what it calls the “prolonged and unnecessary marriage equality debate” the Council of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has expressed support for a ‘Yes’ vote on the same-sex marriage question posed in the national postal ballot.

Noting it could not speak on behalf of all members on the issue, the RACGP President, Dr Bastian Seidel has issued a lengthy position statement to members, saying, “In conclusion, and to be explicit”, that the College “As part of valuing diversity and inclusion… supports marriage equality.”

Healthcare in Focus 2016

The state’s healthcare system matches or outperforms comparable systems on 80 per cent of measures, however the delivery of services to poorer areas disadvantages residents whose health indicators are already below par.

Further, NSW patients have a higher rate of post-surgical complications, long waiting times for cataract and knee and hip surgery (especially in lower socioeconomic areas). The median wait time for cataract surgery was 222 days, ranking NSW 15th out of 16 countries reviewed, including the US, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Germany. 

In terms of value for money, the worst offender was the knee arthroscopy procedure, deemed clinically ineffective for 70 per cent of recipients.

Preparing baby kits in PNG

PNG’s rocketing birthrate and high maternal mortality is making Obstetrics a high priority for this nearby nation’s medical system. Dr Nathan Kesteven visited Port Moresby General Hospital to meet staff and mothers…

Although Papua New Guinea is our nearest neighbour most Australians would have no idea that it has one of the higher maternal and infant mortality rates in the world. In Australia our maternal mortality rate (per 100,000 live births) is 6, in PNG it is 215!

The most common causes are post partum haemorrhage and infection - both related to poor access to birth support structures. In Australia less than 1% of women birth without trained staff present, in PNG that figure is probably around 55% (according to the Pacific Island Regional Development Goals, 2004). This means that most women birth without access to the basic and essential needs that prevent death and serious morbidity, outcomes that we in Australia very rarely see.

Recently I spent 10 days in the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) observing how obstetrics is practised in PNG, at least in a hospital setting. PNG has a population growth rate of around 3% - this means that within 20 years the population will have doubled. This high level was reflected at PMGH - 40 births a day - that equates to 15,000 a year. By comparison, Lismore Base recorded 1155 births in 2016.

The labour ward is a large room divided in half with 12 cubicles on either side with curtains for privacy. There are 2-3 doctors on per shift, with around 4-5 midwives caring for the women who come in.

A range of local artists contributed works for the new Lismore Base Hospital Paediatric Unit that was officially opened on 8 September. Pictured with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (rear) and State MP for Lismore Thomas George (right) were (l-r) Joanna Kambourian, Erica Gully, Beki Davies, Jeremy Austin, Jeni Binns, Dougal Binns, Malcom Austin, and Anne-Marie Mason. At the front is Dr Sniggle of the Clown Doctors.Other artists (not pictured) were Justin Livingston and Rachel Stone.

With features such as bright play areas, a parents’ lounge and an adolescent retreat, Lismore Base Hospital’s new Paediatric Unit focuses on creating a visually appealing environment to complement its acknowledged high level of clinical care.

The unit, opened by visiting NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday 8 September, is part of LBH’s remarkable redevelopment in the past few years.

Helping celebrate the latest milestone was Lismore MP Thomas George, who will step down before the next state election in March 2019. There is no doubt he will be going out on a high note, with the once-outdated facility rapidly becoming a state-of-the-art referral hospital.

And don't tell me what to do
Don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go round with you
Don't put me on display 'cause

You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay

You Don’t Own Me 1963, Lesley Gore

Vaccination for Contrarians

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Bill of 2015 has brought about an increase in childhood vaccination rates around the country and also on the North Coast. The essence of the Amendment was to remove conscientious objection to vaccination as an exemption from the requirement of children to be fully age appropriate vaccinated to be eligible for child care subsidies and Family Tax Benefit A.

Vaccination rates have risen to 93% nationally and are approaching the 95% level recommended for herd immunity. All Primary Health Networks (PHNs) reported rates of greater than 90%. However, rates can vary widely within PHNs and in this issue we report  on the 1867 North Coast kids who are unimmunised. Recent Department of Health Data have shown shown that less than 50% of Mullumbimby two year olds are fully vaccinated; the lowest in the country.

To improve the levels and to counter last year’s anti-vaccination film, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, the Department of Health has launched a 5.5 million dollar campaign targeting areas of low vaccination.