Tributes flow for ‘tireless’ RACGP President

Doug Hendrie

28/07/2020 3:24:15 PM

Tributes for Dr Harry Nespolon have poured in from grieving GPs, patients and the country’s top leaders.

Former RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon.
Dr Harry Nespolon passed away following a nine month battle with cancer.

Dozens of GPs have expressed their grief and respect for Dr Harry Nespolon, who died on the weekend following a battle with pancreatic cancer, describing him as a ‘great leader’ and ‘strong advocate’ for the profession.  
In response to the announcement, Dr Nespolon was praised as the ‘right man for the right time’, as well as for his ‘selfless act’ of working for his profession while battling a terminal illness.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed Dr Nespolon as a ‘passionate but also reasoned advocate for GPs and, above all, for their patients – the Australian people’.
‘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,’ Minister Hunt said.
‘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.’
Minister Hunt said Dr Nespolon played a crucial role in devising general practice components of the Government response to the pandemic.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer and past RACGP President Dr Michael Kidd said Dr Nespolon had led GPs through the pandemic, including his ‘very strong support’ for the generational shift to telehealth.
‘Harry Nespolon was a remarkable leader and inspirational to many. A valued, loved and respected friend and colleague,’ Professor Kidd said.
The Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen said Australia is ‘poorer for his passing’.
One of Dr Nespolon’s patients said the news was ‘heartbreaking’, while another described their long-time GP as a doctor who was ‘really there for his patients and very caring … he will be truly missed by his patients’.
Medical advocacy groups and colleges throughout Australia praised Dr Nespolon’s work.
Dr Tony Bartone, Australian Medical Association President and an RACGP Member, said Dr Nespolon had kept working at ‘full pace’ on behalf of GPs even during the late stages of his illness.
‘Harry was a great defender of general practice. He stood up for doctors,’ Dr Bartone said.
‘He and I spent many hours working with government officials to improve our healthcare system for the better. He simply was passionate about his patients and their care.’
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia expressed deep sadness and noted that Dr Nespolon’s dedication to general practice was ‘unwavering’.
GP Deputising Association President Dr Nathan Pinskier, who has been involved with the RACGP for many years, said Dr Nespolon played an integral role in bringing about the recent telehealth Medicare reforms, which have ‘helped ensure the safety and wellbeing of the medical profession and the patients they care for’.
‘The manner in which he furthered this initiative amongst others as he battled his illness over recent months is a testament to his courage and determination,’ Dr Pinskier said.
Consumers Health Forum CEO Leanne Wells said the news of Dr Nespolon’s untimely passing came as a ‘great loss’ and praised his inclusive approach.
Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine President Dr Ewen McPhee said Dr Nespolon was a ‘passionate, principled and cogent advocate for primary care and [the] community’.
Former Rural Health Commissioner Professor Paul Worley expressed grief at the loss of a champion for GPs. 

 Dr Nespolon was elected President in July 2018.
He passed away on Sunday night after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his partner Lindy and their two children.
He was 57.
The RACGP has established an online memorial wall for Dr Nespolon, where people can leave their condolences, thoughts and images.
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Dr Alison Rose   29/07/2020 7:47:48 AM

I first met Harry when we were both on the board of the GP training organisation - GP Synergy. I was deeply shocked to hear of his death as I had not realised that he was ill. My non-medical husband was also shocked, having met Harry at various GP training social occasions and making the comment "Why do good people die young?". Harry was the face we all recognise of tireless advocacy for general practice, especially during this unprecedented pandemic. Harry will be sadly missed.

Dr Okechuku Igwe Nwachuku   29/07/2020 8:32:32 AM

Exemplary leadership even while battling with personal adversity. This is true COMMITMENT. May his soul Rest In Peace

Dr Nihal Richard Sumithran Williams   29/07/2020 8:47:41 AM

So sad to hear of his passing. A true champion of General Practice. Deepest condolences to his family.

Dr Rajgowri Ratnavelar   29/07/2020 12:38:30 PM

Hari Om May almighty gave him salvation to his soul who struggled on our behalf to support all of us. Hear felt condolances

Dr Gabriella Catherine Gillmore   29/07/2020 5:37:36 PM

Harry’s leadership, especially in these last few months with the current pandemic has been essential, As has been said before “ the right person at the right time”. The fact that he has managed this while coping with personal ill health is extraordinary ... and inspiring.

Dr Nandhini Valli Sivakumar   29/07/2020 5:48:13 PM

Harry, you soldiered on despite your diagnosis. Deepest condolences to your family, friends and colleagues. You will be missed.

Dr Moslim Mohemmed   29/07/2020 10:49:49 PM

Good People Do Not Last Long.
It was shocking for me to hear this very sad news. Harry was not only president of our college, he was extremely advocating for our collage . During is presidential period, I felt this man make life of GPs easy. In comparison with previous presidents of RACGP, he was the best .
My deepest condolences to his Family.
Good people do not last long

Dr Mario D'Cruz   30/07/2020 1:07:15 AM

I did not know this man personally but I wish I did. His calmness and objectivity was broadcast everyday in recent times through my headphones, into my life and radiated out into the lives of my patients and my family, bringing some much needed sense and comfort in the madness of the pandemic.
Shocked by his death, I have read about his life in retrospect. A highly-educated man in medicine, law & management, so well accomplished and from all accounts highly passionate about his patients and his profession.
I do hope that one day when they're old enough to, his butterflies will understand what a truly great man their father was and how he made the lives of so many people better, even up to the very end.

Dr Louis George Gallo   30/07/2020 9:40:13 AM

“Only the good die young “. I met Harry during the Thursday evening tutorial sessions and he attended and taught the registrars while he was president. He was an empathic and patience was his virtue always ready to offer advice and was always to the point. He was an example of what a GP should be. He will be sadly missed by me and fellow colleagues and by the College.
My deepest condolences to his family

Dr Rahul Kalon   2/08/2020 12:30:55 AM