The former President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Dr Harry Nespolon, passed away at the end of July. Despite his 9-month battle with pancreatic cancer, he inspired those who knew him with his passion and energy to the end.
Most recently he was instrumental in achieving access to telehealth so that GPs could continue to serve Australian communities in a safe and accessible way during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A memorial wall has been set up for people to share memories of Dr Nespolon, whether patients, colleagues or friends.
He was unafraid of controversy and sought to elevate the voices of marginalised patient groups such as refugees and LGBTQI people.
‘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.
A board member of Pathology Awareness Australia, and CEO of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, Dr Debra Graves said; “He was a man of vision who understood the bigger picture, open to learning and adopting new ways.”
Pathology Awareness Australia Board member and CEO of Public Pathology Australia Jenny Sikorski recalls her time working closely with Harry, supporting GPs, other health practitioners and their patients as they paved the way for the foundation of the Northern Sydney Primary Health Network. Ms Sikorski said:
“Harry had a full life and never missed an opportunity of communicating his views. It is important for patients to also be strong advocates for their healthcare. If you have concerns with your health, please raise this with your GP or local health service. They are there to support you and to ensure you get the treatment that you need to live the best life possible.”
There is no doubt that Dr Nespolon will be sorely missed, as a medical practitioner, leader, family member and friend. Those paying tribute to him since his death have been keen to point out his characteristic wit, and he will clearly be remembered with great respect by those who knew him, and knew of him.
Vale Dr Harry Nespolon.