Farewell to a health leader

President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Flinders University alumnus Dr Harry Nespolon, tragically passed away over the weekend at the age of 57 after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Dr Nespolon was elected President of the RACGP in July 2018 and achieved much for the organisation and his members, including in his final months as his health deteriorated.

RACGP Board Chair Christine Nixon said: “The RACGP Board is in awe of everything Harry has been able to achieve, particularly over the last seven months. The RACGP and general practice was a huge 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.”

His leadership included securing half a billion dollars for general practice to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including opening up telehealth and telephone Medicare Benefits Schedule items to all Australian patients and doubling the bulk-billing incentive for GPs.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for health praised Dr Nespolon for his outstanding contributions through an immensely difficult time personally and professionally. “His tenure as president coincided with a period of reform and then, of emergency—both the bushfire emergency and more recently the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout these challenges, and his own personal battle with cancer over the past nine months, he remained tireless, eloquent and cogent in his leadership and drive for positive change.”

Dr Nespolon was a Sydney-based GP and practice owner who contributed enormously to the Australian community through his long and diverse career.

He graduated from Flinders University with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1985, and went on to obtain his Diploma of Obstetrics from the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Dedicated to continuous education, Dr Nespolon then completed an economics degree, a law degree, an MBA and a Master of Health Law.

He opened his first practice of three in 2003. Together with clinical practice, he devoted much of his time to advocating for better health care and providing policy and management advice.

Dr Nespolon will be sadly missed by all who knew him and the communities he served.

The Flinders University community extends its heartfelt condolences to his partner Lindy Van Camp, children Hannah and Ella, and his many friends and colleagues.

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