RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon Death Dead – Dr Harry Nespolon Obituary: Cause of Death

Michael Roff Death

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon Death Dead – Dr Harry Nespolon Obituary: Cause of Death

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has passed away aged 57 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

“President of the @RACGP, Flinders University alumnus Dr Harry Nespolon, has tragically passed away at the age of 57. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. A terrible loss.”

He died peacefully in his sleep nine months after first being diagnosed.

The RACGP Board, on behalf of all members, has extended its deepest condolences to his partner Lindy Van Camp, children Hannah and Ella, and his friends and many colleagues.

A Sydney-based GP and practice owner, Dr Nespolon was elected RACGP President in July 2018 on the strength of a long career successfully leading membership-based organisations. He quickly became a familiar face as the spokesperson for the RACGP, working tirelessly to advocate on behalf of the profession and Australia’s 41,000-plus GPs.

Dr Nespolon promised to affect genuine change as President, and he delivered.

He displayed extraordinary leadership during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, advocating on behalf of GPs and the general practice profession to ensure Australia’s primary health clinicians can deliver patients the best possible care.

He was fundamental to the college’s successful efforts in securing $500m for general practice to fight coronavirus, helping to expand telehealth for all patients and bring about the most far-reaching change for general practice in a generation.

‘The Federal Government is listening to the RACGP’s calls at this critical time – telehealth is a key weapon in the fight against this pandemic,’ he said at the time.

‘It is vital to provide extra support to keep general practices open so they can continue to provide essential support to their communities.’

Chair of the RACGP Board Christine Nixon said that despite his deteriorating health, Dr Nespolon was able to achieve a remarkable amount during the COVID-19 pandemic, and leaves an exceptional legacy.

‘The RACGP Board is in awe of everything Harry has been able to achieve, particularly over the last seven months,’ she said. ‘The RACGP and general practice was such a big part of his life, and he gave so much of himself to advocating for the central role of general practice to the health of Australians.’

During his tenure as President, Dr Nespolon also managed to secure a number of key objectives and milestones for the RACGP, including removing PLAN and helping to create simpler, stronger and seamless continuing professional development; ending the Medicare freeze; advocating on behalf of marginalised patient groups such as refugees and LGBTQI people; and building greater support systems for new and experienced GPs.

His sole focus was on what was best for general practice, members, and the Australian people.

Dr Nespolon was resolute in his belief that GPs are the foundation of the country’s health system – and need to be treated as such.

‘General practice is the cornerstone of Australians’ healthcare. Unfortunately, it continues to be taken for granted by governments,’ he said.

‘General practices are small businesses and have exactly the same problems as any other small business. We need to make money and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that or apologise for it.’

Always a strong advocate for GPs and their profession, Dr Nespolon was unafraid to voice his beliefs on potentially controversial topics, such as mandatory reporting and voluntary assisted dying. He was especially vocal on the issue of scope of practice, particularly pharmacy prescribing.

‘It’s quite simple. Pharmacists don’t have the medical training required to safely deliver these crucial healthcare services,’ he said.

If he felt it would benefit general practice and, by extension, the health and wellbeing of all Australians, Dr Nespolon would say so – regardless of any powerful interests he may upset, or the target that might be put on his back.

‘We should always endeavour to do better, to break the mould, to include voices that haven’t been heard, to innovate and to learn from the experience of other jurisdictions,’ he said at the opening of GP19.

Before his time as RACGP President, Dr Nespolon enjoyed a long and varied career. After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Flinders University in South Australia in 1985, he went on to obtain his Diploma of Obstetrics from the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

He became a Fellow of the RACGP in 1992, opening his first practice in 2003. Since becoming a Fellow, Dr Nespolon was briefly part of the RACGP’s SA and NSW&ACT faculties, and has been involved in all aspects of the college’s examination process – examiner, quality assurance, question reviewer and standard setter.

He also represented the RACGP in various committees and working groups, including the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct Committee.

But his ambitions were not limited to medicine. While still practising as a GP, Dr Nespolon completed a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Master of Health Law.

Speaking about his vision for the future at the time of his election as President, Dr Nespolon laid out his plans for Australia’s GPs.

‘Hopefully, at the end of my time as President the members feel the college is advocating for them, has made their jobs easier, and has provided an appropriate level of rewards for their expertise and ongoing training,’ he said.

‘It is the membership that is our greatest strength.’

With such a long list of meaningful and lasting achievements, few would disagree that Dr Nespolon left the RACGP – and the general practice profession – in a better position than before he became President.

Vale Dr Harry Nespolon.

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