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Editor’s note: Dr Nicola Holmes is a GP in Coffs Harbour. She works at the Coff Harbour Medical Centre and worked in the past for 10 years at Coffs Harbour Headspace.

She has been involved in GP registrar training for over 10 years and teaches with the Black Dog Institute in the area of mental health training for doctors. \

She was a member of the Mid North Coast Clinical Council of the North Coast Primary Health Network but resigned recently in protest over recent changes to the NCPHN’s education program.


Most GPs in the NCPHN footprint were surprised and disappointed to find NCGPT has not had its contract renewed by the NCPHN to continue delivering education to medical, nursing and allied health staff in our footprint.

Unfortunately, this decision will come with loss of goodwill and talented staff from a highly effective medical education provider, and loss of trust in the process by medical practitioners in our local area. The ultimate fall out of this decision will be evidenced over the next 12 months.

Education is core to providing healthcare in our area. Think just recently how much information and education we have all had to absorb regarding the responses needed to combat Covid 19. There are many ways of delivering information, and with Covid much has been supplied via websites, written material, and regular update emails. This style of teaching is completely effective in emergency situations such as the current pandemic. Governments and NCPHN should be congratulated in their responses to the pandemic.

Ongoing medical education of the workforce, and keeping a sustainable, healthy, non-burnt out workforce requires a totally different approach to education than an emergency pandemic.

Having worked for NCGPT for 10 years previously, as a medical educator for registrars in our region, I know first-hand that the philosophy of NCGPT goes much further than providing facts in a timely manner. NCGPT always focussed on sustainable workforce, prevention of clinician burnout and subsequent drop out of the profession. They have worked on scaffolding clinicians with support within their local professional community. Initially among GPs and specialists, and more recently as evidenced by their education program under the NCPHN fostering relationships and connection between a wide range of disciplines such as nursing, physiotherapy, dental, occupational therapy, psychology as well as starting the slow process of building a bridge of relationship between primary care and the LHDs.

This philosophy adopted by NCGPT made it the most unique and enjoyable workplace to be part of.

I am not confident that the NCPHN can deliver a similar standard of education in house as was provided by NCGPT.

I would be thrilled to be proven wrong in this belief, and will watch intently from the sidelines to see how the next year unfolds. I encourage all of the GPs in the NCPHN to hold NCPHN responsible for this decision regarding our education and hold them accountable should they not deliver on their promises.