Local GP Ashlea Broomfield has been recognised for her work as a GP and within the wider medical community.
Local GP Ashlea Broomfield has been recognised for her work as a GP and within the wider medical community.

Reformer, advocate, doctor: top gong for Toormina favourite

WHETHER it’s working with patients, colleagues or the broader community – what underpins all of Dr Ashlea Broomfield’s actions is that she cares.

The North Coast doctor’s commitment to her work and the community of Coffs Harbour has earned Dr Broomfield the 2020 Eric Fisher Award from the The Royal Australian College of GPs.

The annual award is given to an early career GP with a strong focus on the emotional wellbeing of their patients and colleagues.

Dr Broomfield has thrived on the North Coast after moving to Coffs Harbour to attend the University of New South Wales Rural Clinical School upon completion of her studies at UNSW.

Dr Broomfield said her time in the area has been fulfilling and rewarding after that one-year stint in Coffs Harbour turned into a permanent move.

“Working on the North Coast has been an incredibly positive experience and I’m glad that instead of moving to Sydney I decided to stay and complete my hospital based training and General Practice specialty training in the same location,” she said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to train within the community I now care for as a fully qualified GP. As a GP we are intrinsically a part of the community and I look forward to working to support the needs of local patients for a long time.”

The award was established in honour of the late Dr Eric Fisher, who was a strong role model for young doctors and firmly believed emotional wellbeing has a significant impact on a patient’s health and recovery.

Toormina doctor Ashlea Broomfield.
Toormina doctor Ashlea Broomfield.

Dr Broomfield said she was honoured to receive the award and like Dr Fisher, believed health was not just the absence of disease.

“I see that understanding the context of our patient’s life circumstances allows me to care for all their needs and help them to reach the goal of substantially improving their long-term health and vitality,” Dr Broomfield said.

“Dr Fisher understood that you can’t just put a neat line between a patient’s physical health and their emotional wellbeing – the two are inextricably linked.

“I am truly humbled to win this award because there are so many GPs out there going that extra mile to care for their patients and support their colleagues’ wellbeing.”

The North Coast doctor is also no stranger to speaking up about issues affecting the community and has also been at the forefront of efforts to improve the wellbeing of doctors too.

In the last 12 months Dr Broomfield spoke up about a lack of leadership on the issue of climate change as well as publicly welcoming the removal of a magazine promoting pseudoscientific medical advice.

“In November last year, I spoke out and warned that climate change is a serious public health issue that cannot be ignored. I was speaking on behalf of all patients whose health and wellbeing was being directly affected by these unprecedented bushfires.

“This isn’t an abstract concept, communities across Australia were hurting and we know that the health of our planet is important for the health of our people so I felt it was important to bring this up as a public health issue.”

Dr Broomfield helped curate and facilitate a now annual two-day workshop called the NSW and ACT Wellbeing Weekend for GPs and chaired a response group to support the needs of GPs in Training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has also worked with her colleagues to push for reform within the RACGP to support GP wellbeing.

She was also the recipient of the RACGP GP Registrar of the year in 2015 and is also the vice-chair of the NSW/ACT faculty of the RACGP.

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