Former RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon, who died on 27 July 2020 after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer, continued working right up until his death as he fought for patients and GPs alike.
And while a lot has happened in the 12 months since his death, the impacts of Dr Nespolon’s work and achievements continue to echo throughout the profession.
‘Harry was taken too soon, but his legacy will live on for many years to come,’ RACGP President Dr Karen Price said on the one-year anniversary of Dr Nespolon’s death.
‘I was always struck by the commitment he had for general practice, which was only eclipsed by the other great loves of his life – his wife and two daughters – whom he always spoke to me about.
‘The care he had for the wellbeing of his colleagues and patients was beyond question. The future of general practice was always a driving force for him and people all around Australia are still benefiting from the tireless advocacy work he conducted on their behalf.
‘His presence is greatly missed by many of us within the general practice community, and our thoughts go out to his family at what must be a difficult time.’
From helping to institute broad telehealth access in primary care to helping end the Medicare freeze, the ‘great defender of general practice’ worked tirelessly to advance the profession and support his fellow GPs.
But one of the issues closest Dr Nespolon’s heart was the health and wellbeing of his fellow GPs.
As such, the inaugural winner of the RACGP Foundation Dr Harry Nespolon Grant, Associate Professor Jill Benson, said it is a ‘great honour’ to have the opportunity to continue this legacy via the research she will undertake over the next 12 months.
‘I always say that some people never die – their spirit lives on in in other ways. And I think that’s what this feels like,’ she said
‘Harry’s spirit is going to live on in this grant, and the meaning that he brought to the way he ran his life can be continued.’
Valued at up to $60,000, the Dr Harry Nespolon Grant is designed to support research into the wellbeing of GPs and/or GPs in training, including factors that support wellbeing, self-care and peer support.
Associate Professor Benson’s research will focus on how career diversity within general practice can benefit GPs and help avoid burnout.
‘One of the absolute beauties of general practice is the diversity,’ she said.
‘If we can really [take advantage] of that diversity, we can have a bigger sense of meaning in our own lives, as well as an ability to help a wider range of people.’