Funding Lismore and the Northern Rivers to Boost Healthcare Services

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The federal and NSW governments' grant support towards improving healthcare in Lismore and the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales has been warmly welcomed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

The RACGP and other health organisations urged the federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler, the federal Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health Emma McBride, and the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to make the announcement that $5 million will be given to local health service providers.

According to Dr. Nicole Higgins, RACGP President, this is good news that the federal and NSW governments have collaborated to offer this much-needed boost to the region's healthcare services. She also said that regular general practitioner visits, the management of persistent illnesses like diabetes and asthma, the prescription of drugs, immunisations, and assistance with mental health issues are all included in this funding.

According to Dr. Michael Clements, RACGP Rural Chair, this funding is a significant development as the local community recovers. Other details of the funding include the following:

  • Grants will be given to Lismore general practitioners, dental offices, pharmacies, private specialists, allied health (including mental health), drug and alcohol treatment centres, and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

  • Grants of up to $150,000 will be offered, with provisions to take applications from providers with extraordinary circumstances into consideration above that limit.

  • Healthy North Coast, the North Coast Primary Health Network (PHN), will receive funds for the grants. Eligible providers are urged to get in touch with Healthy North Coast right away if they would want more information on how to apply for a grant.

According to Professor Charlotte Hespe, RACGP NSW and ACT Chair, patients, particularly those who are dealing with mental health concerns in the wake of the floods, require prompt access to high-quality healthcare more than ever before and these grants will make way for this.

A GP’s Vital Role in Head Trauma and Concussion

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has issued a warning that government agencies and athletic organisations need to take additional steps to reduce the long-term effects of concussions and brain trauma.

According to Dr. Nicole Higgins, when it comes to these health difficulties, general practitioners (GPs) play a crucial role. With more support, Gps can help patients who have suffered brain trauma and concussions even more. GPs are frequently obliged to evaluate patients and give them the all-clear to resume playing after suffering a concussion, such as a local football player or netball player who has taken a blow to the head. Testing for balance, memory, and cognitive abilities, is part of this, as does making sure the patient doesn't have any recurring symptoms when exercising.

Additionally, to address these health issues better, longer consultation is needed, and applying a 10% increase to Medicare rebates for lengthier consultations and enacting a new Medicare item for consultations lasting 60 minutes or longer will significantly improve how Physicians and practice teams manage these complicated health challenges.

Other recommendations of the RACGP regarding this matter include the following:

  • Where necessary, sports regulating organisations must modify the regulations of contact sports to place more emphasis on early concussion prevention.

  • For patients with concussions, repetitive head traumas, and other complicated care needs, extended general practitioner sessions should be funded.

  • Priority is given to developing standardised, evidence-based clinical guidelines for concussion, repetitive head trauma, and sub-concussive episodes.

  • To guarantee a unified strategy to return to sport and player safety across all sports, specific and consistent guidelines are set.

  • Significant funding is provided for the creation of an Australian concussion registry and clinical research into long-term effects.

  • First aid personnel at athletic events have obtained more training that focuses primarily on treating head injuries and concussions.

  • Clarification and standardisation of the term "concussion" are necessary.

Dr. Nicole Higgins also said that these health issues must be taken seriously. It will not only benefit the general practitioners in the country but will surely promote wellness to parents and children who love doing sports.

Drug Law Reform of Queensland, Backed by the RACGP

The Queensland Government's planned changes to the state's drug law have received support from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). In this reform, one of the significant changes speaks about a person carrying dangerous drugs. It was said that a warning will be issued on the first apprehension.

In the second and third instances, the option to finish a drug diversionary program will be presented. These modifications will take effect as a result of the police drug diversion program being expanded to include individuals detected in possession of personal quantities of all illegal narcotics and medications. Only people with modest personal cannabis possession are eligible under the current program.

According to Dr. Bruce Willet, RACGP Queensland Chair, the RACGP supports this sensible policy that will assist people in addressing their drug usage rather than subjecting them to criminal justice system punishment.

Also endorsing the amendments and urging the government to take additional action was Dr. Hester Wilson, chair of the RACGP Special Interests Addiction Medicine Committee. Learn more about the changes in drug law here.

Future GPs Urged to Work in Rural and Remote Areas

Governments have been urged by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) to provide greater opportunities for medical school students to do regional and rural rotations in order to encourage aspiring physicians to live and practice outside of metropolitan areas.

According to a study, it was reported that medical students who were exposed to rural areas for longer periods were more likely to practice their profession in the same area. With this, the RACGP calls these future GPs to think about pursuing a profession outside of a big metropolis.

According to Professor Michael Clements, the doctor-patient interaction and witnessing so many good changes are what many rural and regional general practitioners (GPs) find most rewarding. He advises anyone considering a career in general practice to think about moving to a rural area since it might end up being the finest choice they ever make.

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