Dr Patrick O’Neill has worked as the Medical Superintendent at Mareeba District Hospital since March 2006. It’s been an exciting time in rural medicine when the Commonwealth has been playing an increasingly important role in the provision of rural primary health care.
At Mareeba, in association with the Division, Patrick developed a pilot project to utilise an exemption to the Health Insurance Act. The COAG 19.2 Exemption has been able to generate income for outpatient and radiology services and chronic disease service through Medicare, enabling the hospital to employ additional doctors, nurses and clerical staff who otherwise would not have been funded.
Patrick previously worked nine years in rural general practice in South Australia and 14 years in India, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, China and Nigeria providing medical services to large international projects with the company, International SOS. He also worked as country medical director in Nigeria for three years – an experience he credits with providing him with a perspective on health care delivery that is ‘outside the box’ in Queensland.
Patrick has been actively involved in encouraging young doctors to consider working in rural areas through the teaching and development of the Rural Generalist Program as well as achieving recognition by Queensland Health that Rural Generalists should have the same remuneration as specialists.
Having served three years on the Board, Patrick is in a useful position to help provide an interface between Queensland Health, the Division and community primary care. He is also the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine representative to local GP training provider, Tropical Medical Training. He has an appointment as senior lecturer at JCU School of Medicine and Dentistry and supervises fourth and sixth year JCU medical students.
Patrick lives in Cairns and Mareeba with his wife, Judith. They have two sons, Luke and Mark. He likes to swim, sail and read.
His qualifications include: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery University of Adelaide (1980); Diploma in Obstetrics Royal Australian College of Obstetrician & Gynaecologists (1983); Fellow – Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (1986); Graduate Diploma Family Medicine – Monash University (1998); Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine – James Cook University of North Queensland (1999); Graduate Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety – Curtin University of Technology (2002) and Masters Family Medicine (Clinical) – Monash University (2004). He is a Candidate in the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators and plans to complete the Fellowship next year. This year he will also complete a Bachelor of Arts degree at Monash University, majoring in philosophy and plans to do post graduate study with the Monash School of Philosophy and Bio-Ethics.