10 June 2019

Here’s cheers to all our worthy Queen’s birthday winners

General Practice

GPs who have spent their professional lives working towards influenza prevention, improving Aboriginal health and LGBTIQ advocacy are among the many doctors who are being recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list this year.

By our count, three GPs were appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM), and seven were awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Out of 1,214 awards announced, 135 were in the category of medicine.

Associate Professor John Litt, a retired GP academic affiliated with Flinders University in Adelaide, said he was “very humbled and surprised” to receive the distinguished AM title.

“I’m chuffed that my colleagues or someone’s put me forward and I’ve been recognised,” he told The Medical Republic.

Associate Professor Litt’s lifelong interest has been in disease prevention – particularly how to get influenza vaccination and smoking cessation programs off the ground in general practice.

“I see this as a plug for that as much as a plug for me,” he said.

One of Associate Professor Litt’s legacies is the Green Book, which is a guide to implementing preventative healthcare produced by the RACGP.

The first edition, which was sent to every general practice in Australia in 1998, was largely based on Associate Professor Litt’s PhD. The third edition was published last year.

The Green Book summarises what we know about prevention, thereby directing GPs’ time and effort towards the sorts of strategies that are more likely to work.

Associate Professor Litt’s work with the Influenza Specialist Group over decades has helped bump up flu vaccination rates among older people from around 30% in 1993 to almost 80% today.

His research into the shingles vaccine in 2009 informed the public messaging around Zostavax, which has contributed to boosting the rates of vaccination to around 60% in people aged 70-79.

Dr Ruth McNair, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, was appointed to the Order of Australia “for significant service to medicine, and as an advocate for the LGBTIQ community”.

“I’m pretty amazed,” she told The Medical Republic. “I’d love to know who nominated me because it’s such a nice thing to do.”

Associate Professor McNair helped establish the Australian Lesbian Medical Association in 1999 to support lesbian and same-sex attracted doctors and medical students.

“They still face a lot of discrimination within medicine,” she said.

She is also the chair of the LGBTI Taskforce with the Victorian government and has helped build a LGBTI medical training curriculum.

Dr Jennifer Kendrick, a GP based in Sydney, was appointed to the Order of Australia in recognition of her services to medical education as a board director at the RACGP and a council member of the Medical Council of New South Wales.

Associate Professor Samuel Heard, a GP and the medical director of the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in the Northern Territory, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. He was the chair of NT General Practice Education for 10 years and the NT representative at the Australian Association of Academic General Practice from 1999 to 2005.

Associate Professor Heard has developed registrar training programs, first establishing 16 places at Palmerston Super Clinic south of Darwin and then creating 16 placements at congress.

The six other GPs awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia are:

Dr Anatoly Trachtenberg, a GP based in Sydney

Dr Adam Zagorski, a rural GP based in Tawonga, Victoria

Dr Michelle Crockett, a GP based in Riverstone, NSW

– Dr Geraldine Duncan, a GP and refugee advocate based in Wagga Wagga, NSW

Dr Peter Faulkner, a GP based in Denmark, WA

Dr Milton Sales, a GP based in Lambton, NSW