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Dr Frank Brennan delivers 12 years of palliative care outreach services to Port Macquarie and surrounds

6th August 2021

NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) thanks Palliative Care Physician Dr Frank Brennan, who has provided more than 12 years of palliative care outreach support to Port Macquarie and surrounding communities.  

Dr Brennan visited the region monthly to support local palliative care nurses and inpatient medical teams to provide treatment, care, and support for patients living with life-limiting illnesses.Dr Brennan

“As an outreach practitioner, my role was to care for the community and provide mentoring and training to local health professionals,” said Dr Brennan.

The region now has a local palliative care specialist to deliver this vital service, alongside the local palliative care nurses, which is a significant win for the community.

“Palliative care is so important in the support of patients and their families. I witnessed great comfort and solace being skilfully given by the local palliative care nurses,” said Dr Brennan.

Dr Brennan split his time between clinical visits to patients’ homes and visiting residential aged care facilities and local hospitals. Since 2013 Dr Brennan has provided 36 visits to Port Macquarie, delivered 236 clinic hours and 161 patient Occasions of Service.

Educating local health practitioners was also a considerable component of his outreach service. Dr Brennan conducted monthly breakfast education sessions for local GPs to increase their knowledge of palliative care.

Crucial to this was his mentorship of the local palliative care nurses. Dr Brennan says mentoring, advising, educating and above all, listening to the nurses was mutually beneficial.

“I learnt a huge amount about the lived experience of the local nurses in a rural environment. I was constantly impressed by their wisdom, compassion, knowledge, experience and humour in dealing with the myriad of challenges they faced.”

Nurse Practitioner Debbie White worked closely with Dr Brennan over the years and said his long-standing contribution to the community and his fellow health professionals must be acknowledged.

“Dr Brennan supported me as a mentor during my nurse practitioner studies, and he always made himself available for phone consultations and advice in between his visits,” said Debbie.

Over the years, Dr Brennan says the region had a substantial impact on him. He observed a deep sense of community and pride amongst the residents and local health practitioners.

“During my time in Wauchope, inland of Port Macquarie, the local community campaigned and fundraised for a deeply-needed inpatient palliative care unit, the first in the area.

“It was built during my time there and is a remarkable effort of sustained local commitment, of which the locals are very proud of their achievement,” he said.

With a local palliative care specialist in Port Macquarie, the surrounding communities no longer have to rely solely on Dr Brennan for this service.

Manager Outreach Services at RDN, Claire O’Neill says Dr Brennan should be congratulated for his years of service as we welcome a new local practitioner to the community.

“This is a great example of a community-driven service provided by a long-standing visiting practitioner, that importantly also built the capacity of the local health practitioners,” said Claire.

Reflecting on the past 12 years, Dr Brennan says he was privileged to work alongside and teach and advise the local health practitioners.

“Thank you to the wonderful team I worked with, particularly the palliative care nurses. It was a privilege.

“And to the patients and families I met over the years, thank you for placing your trust in us to care for you”.


RDN thanks Dr Brennan for his years of dedication and service to these rural NSW communities and extends this thanks to all health professionals involved in this service.


About the Outreach Program

The RDN-administered Outreach Program aims to improve health outcomes and increase access to multidisciplinary health services for regional, remote and Aboriginal communities in NSW and the ACT. It works to ensure health services are more affordable, easily accessible and culturally safe. The Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.  

Pictured: Dr Frank Brennan (supplied).

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