The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is pleased to announce that Bega Valley Medical Practice’s Dr Duncan MacKinnon has been named RACGP General Practitioner of the year for 2020.
Dr MacKinnon, who received the RACGP NSW/ACT GP of the Year award in September this year, was named the national winner at the RACGP’s national conference.
He has served Bega as a GP for 25 years and is the owner of the Bega Valley Medical Practice. He is also a Visiting Medical Officer, GP anaesthetist, and the Bega Valley GP Liaison Officer, who contributes many valuable hours to the South East Regional Hospital as well as the local health network.
During the 2019-20 bushfires, Dr MacKinnon demonstrated exemplary leadership by helping to co-ordinate the local health response, including at the local evacuation centre. He played a key role in advocating for GPs in the local emergency response and fought strongly for increased funding and support for counselling services post-bushfires.
RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda today congratulated Dr MacKinnon.
“When I congratulated Dr MacKinnon for winning the NSW and ACT GP of the Year award, I knew that he would be a strong contender for the national award,” he said.
“Dr MacKinnon is held in the highest regard in his community. He is a GP who worked tirelessly through the summer’s bushfires, which tore through the region claiming lives, destroying homes and leaving many people fearful for their future.
“As I said a few months ago, many people in his area are still facing significant challenges. That includes those without a permanent place to live and patients who are dealing with the after effects of the bushfires, including mental health concerns.
“They have in Duncan MacKinnon a GP who will be with them every step of the way. He is a humble man who doesn’t seek out praise but I suspect that many people in Bega - and indeed GPs from across the country - will reach out to thank him for all he has done.
“Once again congratulations Dr MacKinnon and I look forward to hearing more about your extraordinary work. In a year when many communities have relied heavily on their local GP, you represent everything that general practice strives for.”
Dr MacKinnon said he was humbled to accept the national award from a talented list of candidates.
“It was a great honour to win the NSW and ACT GP of the Year award and to win the national award is something else,” he said.
“I would like to thank the RACGP for giving me this award, but once again I want to emphasise that there are GPs just like me across the country working as hard as they can to help their communities during a really difficult year. I wish every GP could be recognised because general practice has stood up in 2020 and faced all the challenges that have come our way head on.
“The way the local community has worked together over the last 12 months has been incredible. During the summer’s bushfires our GP clinics worked together to make sure that services were always open and available for patients.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic struck people got on with it and didn’t hesitate for a second to pull together.
“With the help of Rotary, we organised sanitiser stations to be placed around Bega and surrounding areas. The local distillery repurposed its business to start producing hand sanitiser that we couldn’t find anywhere else, 2020 has brought many surprises.
“If communities can find ways to work together you can make a real difference in stopping the potential local spread of the virus. Every day I see people in the area helping each other out, checking if others are okay and I know that that will continue.
“I am proud to be a rural GP and I really encourage future doctors to consider giving it a go when choosing where to train and work. It is such a varied and rewarding career and your efforts are really appreciated by the local community – you see the positive impact of your work every single day.
“As part of my job I teach junior doctors and I run a rural internship model where interns are placed in our general practice half time for six months while they spend the other half of the week in the emergency department. I see up close how quickly their skill set develops working outside of a major city.
“I know it may seem easier to work in a major city where you have gone to university but many people will find that if they give rural general practice a try they will thrive.”
Dr MacKinnon is also a part time senior lecturer with the Australian National University Rural Clinical School and, along with his wife Sue, set up an innovative, nurse-led GP clinic for teenagers called Teen Clinic to help meet the needs of rural teenagers. Teen Clinics are now run in several coastal towns in NSW and Victoria.
The RACGP Awards recognise the value of GPs in our community, celebrating the achievements of exceptional individuals such as Dr MacKinnon who go above and beyond to care for their patients.