BUSY TIME: Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon (left) looks over plans for the Lismore Base Hospital Integrated Cancer Centre with Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin and NSW Commerce Department project manager David Keeler.
BUSY TIME: Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon (left) looks over plans for the Lismore Base Hospital Integrated Cancer Centre with Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin and NSW Commerce Department project manager David Keeler. CATHY ADAMS

Minister gives Lennox health system a check-up

LENNOX Head residents provided a valuable service this week – they taught the woman in charge of the country’s health system about health care.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon spent almost two hours at the Lennox Head Medical Centre on Wednesday, observing patient consultations with local GP Dr Chris Mitchell and learning about health care in rural areas.

“Nobody seemed particularly nervous,” Dr Mitchell said. “(The patients) were pretty chuffed actually.”

Dr Mitchell, who is also national president of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said he wanted to show the Minister the health-care priorities for the area, as well as the challenges facing GPs.

“Unless people are suffering from chronic diseases they don’t really see what goes on,” he said.

Dr Mitchell said age-related illnesses, mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse and hepatitis C were all health concerns for this region in particular.

“Older people put a lot more demand on the health system because their need for health care is a lot greater,” he said.

“We certainly do need to change our health system. We do need to focus on prevention and to ensure our patients can be looked after at home for as long as they can.”

For her part, Ms Roxon walked away with an insight into the huge variety of ailments treated by GPs.

“She got an understanding of the workload and the variety that a GP has to see every day of their work life,” her spokesman, Mark Ward, said.

In her brief visit to the centre, she saw patients dealing with the loss of a loved one, people suffering chronic diseases, those with alcohol and smoking-related illnesses and those battling obesity.

Dr Mitchell also took Ms Roxon on an outpatient visit to the Ballina Ex-Services Home.

Earlier in the day, Ms Roxon viewed the site of the future Lismore Base Hospital Integrated Cancer Centre, which is due for completion next year.


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