GPSpeak February / March - Editorial

Like so many of the ED staff in our local hospitals – and those throughout Australia - Bangalow GP Graham Truswell, knows only too well the devastating long term consequences of alcohol fuelled violence. In his contribution abut the "Last Drinks @ 12" campaign for Byron Bay, he details the statistics and issues, and posits some solutions. 

The recent acknowledgement of this issue by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is a major triumph for the campaign that continues to be conducted both locally and in Sydney, and is the first time in decades that there has been a response from either political party to the problem. From the start of March, the recently enacted NSW legislation will enforce last drinks at 3.00 am, a 1.30 am lockout and the closure of bottle shops at 10.00 p.m. in the Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour and Kings Cross. 

The "coward's punch" that recently killed young Daniel Christie in the Cross has made alcohol violence a mainstream issue. Fears that the new legislation will result in a prohibition-style rebound in illicit alcohol sales and consumption are speculative at best. Nevertheless, legislation is only one component of reducing alcohol fuelled violence. 

A continuing education campaign and improved infrastructure will be necessary to reduce the problem in Byron Bay where the alcohol sale restrictions detailed above have been in place for some time. 

Byron has a vibrant culture but neither publicans, nor councillors, nor the general community can ignore the increased risk of sexual assault and bashings in this otherwise idyllic corner of Australia. 

A public education campaign will also be necessary to increase the use of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in Australia.

Last year in the MJA Black, Bateson and Harvey argued for this form of contraception to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy for women, particularly at either end of their reproductive lives. In this issue of GPSpeak our colleague Andrew Binns describes the Australian situation, and a recent Health Report expands on the issue. 

Creating awareness and demand for this reliable and safe form of contraception will count for naught if we do not also provide the facilities to obtain LARCs. In the first instance we need to collate and disseminate the information about which GPs and Family Planning Clinics are inserting LARCs.

However, we also need to increase the numbers of GPs doing insertions. There has been interest in forming a special interest group to help train other GPs interested in acquiring these skills. Several GPs in our area are qualified to teach IUCD insertion. 

This issue also enables local vascular surgeon, Dr Deepak Williams, to present an overview of leg ulcers. We are planning further articles on the advances in this rapidly changing branch of medicine.

Dr Rohit Singh, from the North Coast Radiology Group, outlines the new PBS indications for GP-instigated adult MRI. He also reminds us that assistance in radiology investigation is readily available to NRGPN members via the referrer hot lines. 

I would like to remind readers that nearly all the articles that appear in the PDF of GPSpeak can also be found on the website. The search facility on the site is very sophisticated and readers looking for a particular article should be able to find it with only one or two search terms. 

I would like to congratulate Tim Allsopp on his recent appointment as CEO of St Vincent's Hospital, Lismore. He has taken over from Bob Walsh whom we wish well in his new role in the Diocese where he will be responsible for medical projects like the Theatre redevelopment at SVH and the integration of Ozanam Villa into Aged Care operations.

Lastly, special congratulations to Chris Crawford of the NNSW LHD on his Public Service Medal and Juriaan Beek for his Medal of the Order of Australia. Both have given years of fine service to the health and wellbeing of Northern Rivers residents, and these awards are an apt acknowledgement of their commitment. 

David Guest