Dr Nathan Kesteven, Nordocs Chairman 2023

We are nearing the end of 2023 and on behalf of the NORDOCS board I would like to wish all our readers and supporters Seasons Greetings - may you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

So far, 2023 has been blessed in regards to natural disasters, although the residual effects of major events can be very long-lasting. Our thoughts still go out to the many people affected by the terrible fires of 2019, especially on the Mid North Coast and the lower New England, and those impacted by last year’s flooding in the Northern Rivers and SE Queensland.

Already, counseling services are noting concerns being raised by residents who faced the fires of three years ago and are now reading that the approach of an El Niño phase has been confirmed, with very high temperatures and decreased rainfall predicted. 

On the other hand, as the saying goes, having a break in the weather has been appreciated by all on the North Coast and allowed many to work on rebuilding their lives and homes, if they are able to.

On the medical front, the doctors and practices that were affected by the Northern Rivers floods have either repaired their premises or found somewhere that works well for them. Let us at least be thankful for that.

Lismore Base Hospital has returned to full capacity and the huge backlog of elective surgeries is slowly coming down. That said, life on the public waiting list can be uncertain, at times painful, and most frustrating.

Here at NORDOCS we have held the ship steady and on course, and in between the rest of our jobs/lives kept the flag flying for all doctors in the Northern Rivers. We hosted our annual NORDOCs “Unconference” on 13 May at Southern Cross University, this being an event where anyone in the medical community can deliver a topic of their choice within a 25 minute session. 

We have held two previously but had a hiatus due to floods and the pandemic but plan to run them each year in the month of May. Topics this year included same-day total knee replacement, robotic surgery, AI, Open Dialogue, the effect of anaesthetic agents on climate change, medical careers in the Northern Rivers and discussion about Beating Hearts, a weekly singing group for those living with dementia, and their carers, amongst many others.

This year two of Lismore’s longest serving doctors decided to pull up stumps. David Guest and Andrew Binns have both contributed greatly to the wider medical community, and while no longer in active practice, they are the prime movers behind this magazine, and I thank them, and the rest of the editorial team, for their grand efforts.

I hope that you may be reading this fine magazine over a drink, a snack and some locally performed gypsy jazz at the 7 Mile Brewery in Ballina. Or a similar scenario at your home! Again, the very best of the season to you and yours from us and ours, and sincere wishes for a wonderful 2024.