Author: Smartclinics

Help for patients with depression

GP & Nurse-led support for patients with anxiety, depression or mental health conditions

If you are concerned about your own mental health and emotional well-being, or that of a family member, a great first step is visiting a GP who has a special interest and experience in this area. They will help guide you through your options, and let you know which therapies and treatments are available.

One of these options may be a mental health care plan (MHCP) – this is a great way of getting the support you may need.

 Don’t be afraid to ask your GP about mental health care plans – we all need support at times.

A mental health care plan may include access to a private psychologist, therapist, social worker, or mental health nurse.  Sessions with any mental health professional (except private Psychiatrist’s) can be bulk billed and can include 10 ‘free’ sessions with healthcare professionals that is private and personalised for your own needs. 


Helen & Lynn are highly experienced Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHN) at SmartClinics and have has answered some common questions below regarding these specially designed care plans.

Q: How do I know if I qualify for a mental health care plan?

A: You will first need to see a GP to discuss your current situation and requirements to determine if a mental health care plan can benefit you.  They can then refer you to a specialised Mental Health Nurse, Psychologist, Psychiatrist or counsellor, depending on your needs. Your GP will complete a Mental Health Care Plan and refer you to an appropriate service.

Q: How many appointments will I get as part of the plan?

A: Depending on which service you are referred to will determine how many appointments you are eligible for.

Medicare rebates are available for up to 10 sessions over 12 months with a psychologist, social worker or therapist depending on your individual requirements.

Helen & Lynn assist people with complex mental health needs and can provide unlimited support under a specific program called the ‘Mental Health Integrated Complex Care program (MHICC)’.

Q: How much will it cost me to get a mental health plan?

A: There is no out of pocket fee (no ‘charge’) for a mental health care plan as it is covered by Medicare.  While it can include up to 10 sessions, you can’t get Medicare rebates for all 10 sessions in one go. After the first 6 appointments, if you feel that you would like to continue with the program, you need to see your doctor again for a mental health plan review and another referral.

Q: What happens in my first consultation with you (as a mental health nurse?)

A: The health professional you are referred to will ask a lot of questions to help them understand your individual circumstances, and then work with you to develop a plan to help you on your road to recovery. Sometimes the health professional will decide that the service you have been referred to may not be the best one and will get help from other health professionals.  You will be involved in the development of the recovery plan and will be able to ask questions about your care, and what you expect to have happen.  You will be able to have other support people included in your appointments, if you choose. All the information collected by the health professional is confidential and is not given to anybody else unless you agree to it.

Q: How often do I need to come back to see you about my care plan?

A: The health professional that you are referred to will determine how often you need to see them. This will affect how often you need to see your GP to get updated referrals. Under the Medicare system, you can see your health professional 6 times before you will need to see your GP again for review and another referral for more sessions. You can have up to 10 sessions within 12 months.

Q: What types of patients do you help?

A: We help anyone that needs some support. You do not have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to seek help from a mental health professional.  We see people that have never experienced a mental health problem before and need support to understand what is happening to them, and people who have a long history of mental health issues……and everything in between! Mental Health professionals will see people with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Bi-polar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Relationship breakdowns, divorce
  • Suicide & Self-harm thoughts / actions
  • Alcohol & drug use

Q: What kind of advice and tools will I get from this plan to help me?

A: You will receive advice and education about mental illness, what it is, how to manage it and what to expect. There are many tools used to support people’s mental health and you will be taught skills & techniques that are individually tailored to your specific needs.  These tools may include how to manage your mood, stress, thoughts & feelings, how to reduce stress / anxiety & how to understand what is happening to you. Treatments and strategies may include: Meditation. Mindfulness, Therapies including CBT, DBT, EMDR, ACT to assist with managing and learning how to cope with symptoms of mental illness.

Q: Will the care plan include drugs for my condition? Will I need to attend group counselling?

A: We may include using medication to help manage your individual situation. This will be assessed by your GP and we offer advice about the medications that might be used. Not everyone will use medication and often mental illness is managed without medication.

As mental health nurses we do not prescribe medication but do teach you about the medication your GP may have prescribed. We help you to understand what the medication is for, how it works, what to expect when taking medication and what changes may need to be made. We generally do individual support for people but will facilitate groups if needed. We do refer to allied health services if we think people would benefit from group counselling.

Q: How long have you been a mental health nurse, and how are you different to a hospital nurse?

A: Lynn and I have a combined mental health nursing history of over 70 years! We both love the area of mental health and have experience in many types of settings including working in hospital mental health units, community mental health, private and public settings and working with a very diverse range of people.

We are different to hospital nurses in many ways, but mostly we support your mental health rather than your physical health, even though physical health is a vital part of maintaining good mental health.

Q: Whats your best advice for someone who is struggling with mental health right now? 

A: There is no “right or wrong” with mental illness. It often isn’t as easily diagnosed or treated as physical illness can be.

There is never a “right time” to seek help from your GP for help or advice. If you feel that you are not coping well, seek support from your GP.

There is no problem at all with having a discussion with your GP and being referred to a Mental Health Expert, even if you think there is nothing wrong…… a listening ear is sometimes all we need. We all need help at times to care for ourselves and our mental health is no different….in fact it is more important than anything else.

Learn how to recognise some of the signs of possible mental illness

Signs in Adults may include:

  • Unexplained changes in moods /thoughts/feelings
  • Feeling really happy or really sad
  • Feeling hopeless / helpless and unable to make things better
  • Poor sleep patterns, (oversleeping / under sleeping, frequent waking, unable to go to sleep / stay asleep)
  • Increased irritability / frustration with normal activities and unable to change
  • Changes to significant relationships (without recognised cause)
  • Unexplained sounds / smells / sights
  • Excessive worry about things that would normally not bother you much
  • Strange beliefs / ideas / thoughts…. even though you might feel they are so true / real.
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in eating habits, overeating, under-eating, binging / purging
  • Suicidal / self-harm thinking
  • Increased “at risk” behaviour
  • Unexplained physical illness/s
  • Increased substance / alcohol use or using these for the first time in excessive amounts
  • Increased prescription medication use without other explanation

Sings in Children may include:

  • Changes to normal routines
  • Changes to regular sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating habits, overeating / undereating / changes to dietary preferences
  • Difficulty going to / learning at school / concentrating
  • Falling out with friends / family / siblings
  • Not wanting to do regular activities
  • Persistent anger / sadness / irritable outside of normal
  • Preoccupied with their thoughts and don’t participate in regular conversations etc
  • Self harm activity eg cutting,
  • Talking about suicide / death….outside of normal conversation
  • Frequent unexplained physical illness….eg stomach pain, headache
  • Changes in mood, personality, behaviour.
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares



Doctors warn patients not to skip appointments

Social distancing restrictions have finally eased!

Here’s why you should make your first trip a visit to the GP.

While you’ve probably got some BBQ’s to attend and awesome places that you want to visit after being in isolation, Australia’s Doctors want to see you as a priority.  Not because they are worried you may have COVID-19, but for these 3 important reasons below:

Other serious conditions are being ‘missed’.

Missed appointments and vital health check-ups during COVID-19 are causing concern amongst doctors worldwide.

Since early March across Australia, there has been a 60% reduction in screening for cervical cancer, and care planning for diabetes patients has reduced by two thirds.

Dr Scott Horsburgh from SmartClinics Annerley says “We have not been able to properly manage many of our patients’ conditions because they have either skipped important appointments or missed their regular pathology or radiology tests. We are also concerned about a rise in other conditions in patients who may be developing serious health issues but are not coming in to see their GP to be screened for early detection”.

Please don’t skip your regular check- ups with your GP – they are more important than you may think!

Your physical health and personal lifestyle may have changed

Your lifestyle may be a little different now to what it was before COVID-19 hit.  Many GPs are witnessing adverse effects on their patients from things like physical distancing, job loss or financial stresses, less social interaction, less exercise and dietary changes.   While some of this might be temporary, worrying about your health, ignoring signs that could need an assessment and avoiding a much-needed talk to a medical professional can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. It is paramount for your emotional and mental well-being to allay any concerns you may have.

If you or a loved one is feeling a bit down, anxious or out of sorts, speaking to your GP is really good place to start.  SmartClinics has a large number of GPs who have a special interest and experience in helping patients through tough times so don’t feel as though you have no one to turn to. Please call your local SmartClinics Family Medical Centre and ask to see a GP who can help you with the symptoms you are feeling.

It’s Flu Season 

Australia is seeing a decrease in flu cases due to the strict COVID-19 measures, however with restrictions easing there is no guarantee that this will continue. It’s far better to play it safe – if you are still due to get a 2020 Influenza Vaccination please visit a SmartClinics Medical Centre before you become a socialise-bunny. Flu Shots are only $14.95 and your appointment for the vaccine will be bulk billed during standard business hours. Click here to book your flu shot at a SmartClinics Medical Centre

Remember, a quick trip to the GP now will likely mean less visits to the GP later! We want to help you be the healthiest you for as long as you can.

If you are overdue – make the time now! This includes skin checks, breast and cervical screening, and standard health check-ups.

Talk to your GP if you have any mental health concerns – the earlier you get help, the easier your recovery.

Attend your regular GP appointments and pathology tests.

At SmartClinics we have GPs who are experienced in all areas of General Practice including women’s, children’s and men’s health, allied health from physiotherapy to nutrition and weight management, asthma and diabetic management.

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT ONLINE HERE  or call your local SmartClinics Medical Centre.

News for Ferny Hills patients

15 September 2020

Dear Patients,

It appears that some patients missed the news that we have moved to the Gap. It was a difficult decision to close our Ferny Hills medical centre location back in June 2020, but we are only a short drive away!

Your Ferny Hills Doctors would like to continue to see you and your family for appointments at one of these practices, which are both located in The Gap at:

SmartClinics Walton Bridge Family Medical Centre
976 Waterworks Road, The Gap
07 3300 1900


SmartClinics The Gap Family Medical Centre
Glen Affric Street, The Gap
(07) 3300 3799

Alternatively you can BOOK AN APPOINTMENT ONLINE

Both face-to-face and telehealth appointments are available. If you have cold or flu symptoms however, please do NOT attend a clinic in person. Instead call the clinic before you arrive for advice.

The continuity of your care is essential so we strongly encourage you to continue seeing your regular GP at our new locations.

Thank you

Warm regards,

Your SmartClinics Family Doctors


Where can I get a bulk billed Telehealth Appointment?


  • CAIRNS: Woree, Smithfield
  • BRISBANE: Deception Bay, Clayfield, Mango Hill

The Doctors at the above clinics can talk to you over the phone and help you with a wide variety of general health concerns – and it will be BULK BILLED if you have a current Medicare Card.

If you would prefer to talk to a doctor from a different SmartClinics location, a fee may apply. Fees are available by calling your preferred clinic location or you can also find fees on this website, under the “About the clinic” tab at your preferred clinic location page.

How to book your Telehealth appointment

Please note not all GP appointments are suitable for a telehealth consultations. These are at your doctor’s discretion.

You can book your appointment by either:

Calling our Telehealth hotline on 1300 411 748 during standard business hours,

Or, call your preferred clinic location and talk to our reception team,

Or, book your Telehealth appointment now – online – by clicking the pink button below. You can choose which Doctor you want to talk to, and when.  Then, your Doctor will call you at your requested appointment time.

What is Telehealth? 

It is just like a standard GP appointment, but conducted over the phone. Your GP will go through the normal procedures of asking about your symptoms (if you have any) and assessing potential diagnoses. If a script is required, it’ll be faxed, emailed or posted to you or your preferred pharmacy. Our Doctors can provide over the phone support for pregnancy, mental health, and patients with autism, chronic diseases or eating disorders, plus a wide range of other health services.

All you need is a quiet place and a phone. WANT TO KNOW MORE? Click here.

Doctors open Easter 2020

Need a GP over the Easter long weekend?

Many SmartClinics Doctors are working over the Easter break in case you need medical assistance.

Some medical centres will be OPEN for face-to-face appointments in the clinic with your GP while other Doctors will be offering Telehealth consultations so you can talk to them over the phone.

To make an appointment, you can choose to book online or call the clinic directly.

Click on the location below to find clinic booking and contact details.

Good Friday, 10th April

Clinics that are Open for In-Clinic consultations:

  • Chermside – open til 11pm every night!
  • The Gap – open 9.00am to 12.00pm
  • Annerley – open 8:00am – 4:00pm (no bulk billing)

Doctors who are available for Telehealth Calls:

Easter Saturday, 11th April

Clinics that are Open for In-Clinic consultations:

Doctors who are available for Telehealth Calls:

Easter Sunday, 12th April

Clinics that are Open for In-Clinic consultations:

  • Chermside – open til 11pm every night!
  • Mango Hill – Open 8:00am – 1:00pm
  • Annerley – open 8:30am – 3:00pm (no bulk billing)

Doctors who are available for Telehealth Calls:

Easter Monday, 13th April

Clinics that are Open for In-Clinic consultations:

  • Chermside – open til 11pm every night!
  • The Gap – open 9.00am to 12.00pm
  • Annerley – open 8:00am – 4:00pm (no bulk billing)

Doctors who are available for Telehealth Calls:

Doctors open over Christmas Holidays 2019

Looking for Doctors open on Christmas Holidays, Sundays or after hours?

It can be difficult to find Doctors open on Christmas holidays. Luckily, many of our Family Medical Centres across Queensland & Tasmania remain open over the festive season including Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Some clinics even offer late night and weekend appointments which could save you a trip from going to your local emergency department to see a Doctor. Accidents do happen and people can fall sick at any time of year, so we’re here to help you in case the unexpected happens. If you need to see a GP after hours or on a weekend click here for a list of our After Hours Clinics. Note these times may be affected by the Christmas Season.

For full details on Christmas Season clinic opening times, clinic phone numbers and addresses, click here then choose your preferred location.

Medical Centres open on Christmas Eve (24 December 2019)

  • BRISBANE: Annerley, Brisbane City (George Street),  Carindale, Carseldine, Chermside, Clayfield, Corinda, Ferny Grove, Lutwyche, Mango Hill, Pullenvale, Rothwell, Taigum, Toowong, The Gap (Glen Affric & Waterworks Road), Windsor
  • GOLD COAST: Arundel, Merrimac
  • CAIRNS: Smithfield, Woree
  • TOWNSVILLE: Hyde Park
  • TASMANIA: Devonport

For specific opening times, clinic phone numbers and addresses, click here then choose your preferred location.

Medical Centres open on Boxing Day (26 December 2019)

  • BRISBANE: Chermside, Walton Bridge (976 Waterwords Rd, The Gap)

For specific opening times, clinic phone numbers and addresses, click here then choose your preferred location.

Medical Centres open on New Year’s Eve (31 December 2019)

  • BRISBANE: Alexandra Hills, Annerley,  Carindale, Carseldine, Chermside, Clayfield, Corinda, Ferny Grove, Lutwyche, Mango Hill, Pullenvale, Rothwell, Taigum, Toowong, The Gap (Waterworks Road), Windsor
  • GOLD COAST: Arundel, Merrimac
  • CAIRNS: Smithfield, Woree
  • TOWNSVILLE: Hyde Park
  • TASMANIA: Devonport

For specific opening times, clinic phone numbers and addresses, click here then choose your preferred location.

Medical Centres open on New Year’s Day (1 January 2020)

  • BRISBANE:  Chermside, The Gap (Waterworks Rd)

For specific opening times, clinic phone numbers and addresses, click here then choose your preferred location.

SmartClinics Strathpine has moved

Hi Strathpine patients

SmartClinics Strathpine has now permanently closed but our Doctors are only short drive away!

Dr Alexander, Dr Collins and Dr Malczewski are now seeing patients at SmartClinics Carseldine. Dr Mills is now consulting from SmartClinics Rothwell.

SmartClinics Carseldine & Rothwell both have:

  • Fresh & modern waiting and treatment rooms
  • Weekend appointments available
  • Ample free on-site parking with wheelchair access
  • Access to an a affordable discount Chemist
Your Doctor hopes to see you at their new clinic soon!

The address for SmartClinics Carseldine is:
1925 Gympie Rd, Bald Hills QLD 4036
Mon: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Tue: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Wed: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Thu: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Fri: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Sat: 08:30 – 12:30pm
Sun: Closed

The address for SmartClinics Rothwell is:
757 Deception Bay Road, Rothwell QLD 4022
Mon: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Tue: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Wed: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Thu: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Fri: 08:00 – 6:00pm
Sat: 09:00 – 1:00pm
Sun: Closed
Warm regards,
The previous SmartClinics Strathpine team.

Doctors Open on Queen’s Birthday Holiday

Queen’s Birthday Weekend Opening Hours – 7 October, 2019

A number of SmartClinics Doctors will be working on Queen’s Birthday public holiday on Monday, October 7th.

To book an appointment call the surgery on the number listed below or book online by clicking on the location name then tap the pink booking button.
  • Chermside – Open from 7am til 11pm. Ph: (07) 3177 9500
  • Annerley – Open from 9am til midday. Ph: (07) 3848 9299
  • The Gap (Walton Bridge) – Open from 9am til midday, then from 5pm til 6:30pm. Ph: (07) 3300 1900
  • Ipswich – Open from 8am til 2pm. Ph: (07) 3202 2000
Need to see a GP after hours or on the weekends?
Find out which is your closest after hours or weekend medical centre by clicking here.

2020 EKKA Doctor Appointments

While the EKKA has been cancelled this year, Friday 14th August is a public holiday in Brisbane!

If you need to see a Doctor in Brisbane this Friday or over the weekend – we have you covered… see a SmartClinics Family Doctor near you.


  • Chermside – Open every day from 7:00am -9.30pm
  • Annerley:  Open on Friday (8:30am – 1:30pm), weekend appointments also available.
  • Walton Bridge on Waterwork Road open Friday 9am to Midday, weekend appointments also available.
  • Alexandra Hills – Open Friday and Saturday
  • Deception Bay – Open on Friday and Saturday
  • West End – Closed on Friday but open on on Saturday and Sunday
  • Windsor – Closed on Friday but open on Saturday morning
  • Carseldine – Closed on Friday but open on Saturday morning
  • Toowong – Closed on Friday but open on Saturday morning
  • Taigum – Closed on Friday but open on Saturday morning
  • Corinda – Closed on Friday but open on Saturday morning


Patients with appointments will have preference except in emergencies.  You can make an appointment with any of our doctors online or by telephoning or presenting to the surgery.  Please let our receptionist know if you require prompt attention for matters such as chest pain, burns, eye injury etc.

Appointments are normally made at 10 minute intervals, however this may change if there have been emergencies or if the surgery is very busy.

We have made running on time a high priority, but emergencies do happen. It’s a good idea to phone the surgery before your appointment to check whether your doctor is running on time.  If you feel you require a longer consultation please discuss this with the receptionist prior to making an appointment.


Relocation of Fairfield Waters clinic

Dear Patients,

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the recent floods. SmartClinics Fairfield Waters Medical Centre is currently closed and undergoing extensive renovation due to flood damage.

So we can continue to provide you and your family with medical care, we are opening a temporary medical centre in Hyde Park. GP appointments with your current Doctor will be available at the new clinic from 20th February, 2019. We expect to be operating from our new location for approximately 6 months while work is being completed at our Fairfield Medical Centre.

Castletown Shopping World – find us near Friendlies Chemist
Corner Woolcock & Kings Road
Hyde Park

Monday to Friday : 8:30am–5:30pm
Saturday: 9:00am-12:00pm 


Clinic fees will not change, and our phone and fax number will stay the same. We will keep you updated on the progress of our Fairfield clinic and hope to be moving back very soon!

If you have any concerns or questions, please call our friendly reception team on Ph: (07) 4778 4581

We look forward to seeing you at our new clinic soon.

Warm regards from the team at SmartClinics Fairfield Waters Family Medical Centre.

Bulk Billed Skin Checks at Strathpine


By the age of 70, 2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. We’re on a mission to make sure that all Australians get checked out for skin cancer this summer.

Our experienced skin doctors at SmartClinics Strathpine will make sure your skin is safe and bulk bill the appointment for all Medicare card holders.


To book, call (07) 3177 9583 or CLICK HERE to book online.

You can find the clinic at 130-134 Gympie Road, Strathpine (near OfficeWorks). There is ample car parking and a Chemist located right beside us for your convenience.

For more information about our medical centre, opening hours and Doctors please visit the SmartClinics Strathpine clinic page.



Vein Treatment & Removal in Brisbane

Is it time to treat your varicose veins?

Common questions answered by Dr Wall – SmartClinics George Street (Brisbane city)

What’s the best way to avoid Varicose or Spider veins from becoming worse?

The reason for the appearance of varicose veins are multifactorial and include injury to veins from trauma, pregnancy and heritage. The jury is still out on whether wearing high heels is a contributing factor. Once they are present they are likely to persist and worsen over time.  Wearing compression stockings will slow the progress of varicose veins and overcome much of the complications of varicose veins. However compression stockings are hot and uncomfortable and for the most part impractical for most people.

What are the different types of treatments available for Spider and Varicose Veins on my legs?

Endovenous last ablation (EVLA) is an effective method of treating the main truncal superficial veins of the leg. These are the veins into which you varicose veins should flow. A laser probe is passed up the Great saphenous vein to efficiently remove this vein. EVLA is done in conjunction with sclerotherapy to treat the secondary veins. SmartClinics George Street does not offer EVLA at this time.

What is the success rate of the treatment? Is one treatment better than the other?

For the treatment of small varicose veins including spider veins, of the lower limbs, the only real option is sclerotherapy. It has a high success rate of over 90%. EVLA is the gold standard for treatment of the truncal veins particularly where these are very large and has a high success rate of over 95%. Sclerotherapy is effective in treating truncal veins but is limited by the size of the veins. On veins up to 7mm in diameter it is very effective – over 95%.

Can I get treatment while I am pregnant?

Sclerotherapy is contradicted in pregnancy.

What will happen at my initial assessment before treatment?

Are your assessment, the doctor will examine your legs for varicose veins and signs of complications of venous incompetence, before discussing your treatment options. Be prepared to expose your legs fully. Additionally many patients will require Ultrasound assessment “mapping” of their veins at a radiologist, prior to planning treatment and commencing sclerotherapy.

Does the treatment hurt? Are there any risks of side effects?

Sclerotherapy involves numerous injections through the skin. However the needles used are very fine and well tolerated by most patients.

The most common side effects experienced with sclerotherapy are:

  • Itching – you may experience mild itching at the injection site and urticaria or hives which disappears rapidly.
  • Hyperpigmentation – some patients notice a light brown discolouration laong the treated vein due to haemosiderin staining in the skin as the vein disappears. This may persist for you to 12 months.
  • Allergic reactions – very rarely(<1% in 1000) a patient may have an allergic reation to the sclerosing agent. This risk is greater in patients who have a history of allergic reactions.
  • Pain – A few patients may experience mild to moderate pain and some bruising around the injection site or along the course of the vein. The veins may be tender to touch after the treatment and an uncomfortable sensation may be felt along the vein route. This pain is usually temporary lasting 1 to 7 days. Tenderness from clotting along the treated vein can be relieved by Nurofen of by the doctor releasing trapped blood after a few days.

Are the results instant? And if I have lots of veins will I need more than 1 treatment?

The results of sclerotherapy take a few weeks as the sclerosed veins are slowly absorbed by your body. Your doctor will usually reassess your veins at four weeks after the initial treatment. The number of treatment required differs for each person and can range from one to six, with average being three to four.

What are the costs involved? Does Medicare cover any of the fees?

The costs of sclerotherapy at SmartClinics George Street varies from $250 to $600 per treatment.  Medicare gives a rebate of $95.00 per treatment. There is alos the cost of the compression stockings which need to be worn for a period after the treatment. Private health funds may rebate the cost of the compression stockings, but do not pay for sclerotherapy.


BRISBANE: Dr Hugh Wall P: (07) 3236 2559. SmartClinics George St, 275 George St, Brisbane 4000

GOLD COAST: Dr Aaron Atia. P: (07) 5535 5170. SmartClinics Burleigh Heads, 149 West Burleigh Road, Burleigh Heads Qld 4220

For more information about vein treatment in Brisbane CLICK HERE

Mixing different medication – the do’s and don’ts.

Be Medicinewise Week 20-26 August 2018

Author: Dr Sir-Kit Leong, SmartClinics Clayfield

Each year more than 230,000 Australians are hospitalised with problems caused by their medicine.

Whether it’s your own medication or someone you love or care for, it’s important to make sure you understand what each medication is for, how to take them correctly and be mindful of potential side effects when combining different medication.

SmartClinics GP, Dr Sir-Kit Leong, answers some common questions about safety and effectiveness of taking medicine, and multiple types of medication at the same time…

Q: If I think my medicine is not working, or making me feel worse, should I just stop taking it or wait until I see my GP before stopping?    

Dr Leong:

As a general rule, side effects may develop within hours of taking a new medicine if  you do not tolerate it. Delayed reactions can happen too within days after new medicine is commenced.

If you are not well in general,  particularly, if you  developed any serious side effect(s)  such as severe rash, fevers, dizziness, vomiting, breathing difficulties, the medicine is to be stopped immediately.

Be guided by your own observation, and do not delay in seeking medical attention if you are getting worse.

Q: What do you recommend as the best medication to give to my children when they are not feeling well?

Dr Leong:

It is dependent on what illness and what symptoms your child has.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen are common symptom relief medication given by parents to children for pain and fevers. I do advise that parents check the active ingredients in any over the counter (OTC) medicine before giving them to children. There are various OTC brand names, that have similar ingredients.

Q: Can some drugs work for some people, but not for others?

Dr Leong:

Patients may have variable response to the same medication.

When a medicine is consumed, it goes through  some important phases in our body: absorption, distribution, metabolism (breakdown) and elimination (removal via kidneys and/or liver). If there is change to any of these phases, the therapeutic effect of  a drug can change.

Q: Should people who are heavier, or lighter, take more or less than the recommended dose for children/adults that is written on the pack?

Dr Leong:

The dosing of medicine for children is dependent on the child’s body weight. Adults who are frail, elderly, with liver and kidney conditions are likely to have a lower dose.

I  would advise patients to regularly check the medication details (name of drug, personal details, instructions, expiry date) on their packs/bottles before taking them.

This simple step will reduce risk of taking the wrong drugs.

Q: What are the dangers of mixing drugs for pain relief? Will it make me sick, or just not be as affective?

Dr Leong:

If you are taking strong painkillers such as codeine based ones, other than paracetamol and non steroidal anti- inflammatories (such as ibuprofen), it is advisable to discuss with your GP to use  medication  effectively and safely.

Opioid painkiller (common ingredient : codeine)  has a role in acute pain.

However in patients with pain that last several weeks, especially more than six weeks, it is important to consult your doctor to work out a clear plan and  subsequent ensuing  reviews.

Mixing painkillers without clear understanding puts a patient at risk of drug dependence, tolerance (when a drug is no longer working for its purpose) , overdose and adverse reactions (especially cardiorespiratory and neurological reactions).

Q: What’s the best way to know if different types of medication can be taken together? For example, if I’m taking panadol, can I also take asprin or neurofen?

Dr Leong:

In theory, risk of drug to drug interaction increase with each medication added to existing medication(s), particularly if you have six or more medications. Nonetheless, most people tolerate medicines without major side effects.

Your doctor would be able to provide you advice on what’s most appropriate when combining different medication.

I highly suggest that if you take multiple medications, it is wise and safe practice to regularly review the need for each of them.

The doctor can also report significant side effects or adverse effects to Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) that you may experience with medications,  for future safety prescribing.

Q: My current medications are quite expensive and I’m finding it difficult to afford to pay for them. Is there anything I can do?

Dr Leong:

You can consider taking generic medications as they  do work  the same as their patented counterparts, and they are more affordable.

When your doctor writes you a medication, the PBS box  is usually ticked on the script.

What it means is that the medication cost has been subsidised by the government under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme ( PBS).

Some non PBS medication may be cheaper than PBS ones.  Please do consult your local pharmacist on how to best reduce cost of medications.

You would eligible for cheaper PBS medicine  if you have reached the PBS  safety net threshold.

Concession card holders and patients who are registered Closing the Gap (CTG) PBS co-payment Measure , are also eligible for cheaper medicine.

Find out 5 questions to ask your doctor about medicines and more about Be Medicinewise Week at

For more information about medicine, or mixing different medication, call our Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424)


Hepatitis remains highly undiagnosed in Australia

Author: Dr Jeffrey Wang MBBS, FRACGP, HBV S100 Prescriber

28 July is the world Hepatitis day

It is a timely reminder that worldwide viral hepatitis is responsible for 1.3 million deaths each year. It is such a burden on health resource that the World Health Organisation has aimed to eliminate Hepatitis B and C by 2030. In Australia, we have an estimated 230,000 chronic Hepatitis B and 200,000 chronic Hepatitis C sufferers. However, thousands of people in Australia have not yet been diagnosed.

There are five types of viral hepatitis – A, B, C, D and E.

  • Hepatitis A and E are contracted through ingestion of contaminated food or water. They often resolve by themselves.
  • Hepatitis B and C are contracted through exchange of bodily fluid (blood, semen) during events such as unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, tattoo and piercing.
  • Hepatitis D is an uncommon infection that require concurrent Hepatitis B infection.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis may include lethargy, loss of appetite, jaundice (yellow discolouration of skin), joint pain and abdominal pain. After the acute phase, Hepatitis B and C virus can continue to cause liver inflammation without any noticeable symptoms. Eventually they can lead to liver scarring and liver cancer.

It is therefore important to be aware of your risk profile and attend for appropriate screening.

Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) has recommended potential Hepatitis B screening for the following groups:

  • People born in intermediate and high prevalence countries (see chart below1)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  • All patients prior to undergoing chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy
  • Unvaccinated adults at higher risk of infection such as household and sexual contacts of people with chronic hepatitis B, past history of injected drug use, and men who have sex with men.


Screening is done through specific blood tests.

It is important to know that once diagnosis of chronic Hepatitis B is made, regular monitoring is essential to determine if treatment is required. There have been significant advances in antiviral treatment agents such as Tenofovir and Entecavir. They are very effective at withhold disease progression and have minimal side effects.

For Hepatitis C, ASHM recommends potential screening for people with the following risk factors:

  • History of injected drug use
  • History of incarceration
  • Recipients of organ or blood products before February 1990 in Australia
  • Tattoos or skin piercings
  • Born in countries with high Hepatitis C prevalence (Africa, the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East – in particular Egypt)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Again there have been significant advances in Hepatitis C treatment and we have been looking at cure rate of >90% when treated early.

For further information, please refer to two very useful websites:

So please spread the word and arrange a time to see your friendly GP if you have any questions!


My Health Record – what you need to know…

What is it?

My Health Record is a secure online summary of your health information. You can control what goes into it and who is allowed to access it. You can choose to share your health information with your doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Why is it so important?

It means that if you need to attend Hospital or an Emergency Department the staff can see your most up to date medications and conditions which will allow them to provide you with the best care and treatment. This is especially important if you are a little older or struggle to remember the types and doses of your medications, and any recent changes to them.

Pharmacies, Pathology and Radiology can now all be uploaded meaning your relevant and most up to date medical information is easily accessible to health professionals when required. This is great if you frequently travel interstate.

How to Register

Visit and ask your Doctor at each visit to upload a new summary for you.

How to opt-out

From this July the Government will be starting a 3 month opt out period. This means that after October all those who have not chosen to “opt out” will automatically have a record created for them. Remember, the whole idea of the My Health Record is to save lives – it allows health professionals like your Doctors and emergency staff fast access to your health information if for some reason you are unable to tell them while in need of medical assistance. Some people would prefer not to have their medical data made available through their My Health Record due to privacy concerns. The data in your My Health Record is secure and you can control who can access it, however it’s totally your choice.. if you want to opt-out click here, but as medical professionals we think it’s a move in the right direction for providing ultra-convenient and high quality healthcare for all patients.

Want to know more? 

Watch this short video on YouTube for more information or click here to read more.

Response to Health Engine reports in media

You may have read some media reports today focusing on the sharing of patient information by Health Engine. In reported instances, any data that has been shared with 3rd parties by Health Engine during the appointment booking was unbeknownst to SmartClinics. We are taking the necessary action to investigate the truths and severity of the situation.

Please be assured that your personal health information is safe with SmartClinics. Health Engine does not have access to SmartClinics’ patient data as they are a third-party organisation that only stores its booking information and operates under its own privacy policy.

Whilst we currently continue to accept patient-initiated bookings via Health Engine, SmartClinics offers our own internal booking system called HealthMax at many of our locations, and we also accept bookings via phone. SmartClinics values the confidentiality of our patients, and will never share data with 3rd parties, unless requested by our patients.

For the moment, if you have any concerns over the use of Health Engine bookings, we recommend making an appointment via phone or visit one of our many clinics that use our highly secure internal booking engine. If you have any other concerns or would like to get in touch, please complete the Contact Us form or call our National Support Centre on (07) 3193 1300.

Warm Regards,
Steven Dahl, SmartClinics CEO

Men’s Health Advice by Dr Walsh

AUTHOR: Dr Ian Walsh

Men’s health week runs this year from the 11th to the 17thth of June.  We need to collectively take a moment to focus on this important area of health, irrespective of our gender.


For the men out there, it’s an opportunity to reflect upon your own state of health, both physical and mental, and work out whether it’s time to make an appointment to see your GP for a checkup.  For the women, often the responsibility falls on your shoulders, having to gently prod and encourage the men in your lives to get checked.

And it shouldn’t just be a once off.  It should be the start of a lifelong investment in your own health.  Because as a rule, men are neglectful of their own health, for any number of reasons.  And statistically, men’s health typically is poorer than that of our female counterparts.

So let’s look at a few statistics regarding men in Australia and their health (information sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics):

  • Males have a life expectancy of 4.5 years less than a female born at the same time
  • Every hour, 5 men die from a disease that could have been prevented through early detection and intervention
  • Each day about 32 men are told that they have prostate cancer
  • More men die every year from prostate cancer than do women from breast cancer
  • Rates of suicide among men are nearly four times higher than among women
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in males aged 15 to 45 years
  • By the age of 75, nearly half of all men will have been diagnosed with cancer at some stage of their life (women comparatively are under one third)
  • Men are less likely to consult a GP compared with women, particularly amongst younger men
  • Men aren’t doing enough physical activity (50% <65 years old exercise sufficiently, dropping to 25% for >65)
  • 70% of adult Australian males are overweight or obese
  • Men are more likely to engage in risk behaviours – smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, illicit drug use
  • 50% of men have experienced violence as an adult
  • 86% of men aged over 65 have a chronic disease
  • 50% of men aged 16 to 85 have experienced a mental health disorder
  • 50 % of adult males reported some sexual difficulty in the previous 12 months
  • Males access Medicare at a lesser rate than females do (33% less services per year)

So what can you do, either for yourself or the men in your lives?

Make or encourage them to make an appointment to see their GP for a once over.  All it takes is a little time invested in the most important asset in your world.  And that’s YOU!

I personally have my own GP, who I can honestly state has helped me through a number of difficult times in my life.  And I have sought the advice of a counsellor, when I couldn’t find the answers I was seeking and needed the advice of a professional.  And there is no shame associated with putting your hand up and asking for help when things get a bit or a lot tough, because there are people out there willing and able to assist you get through those dark patches.

I have also sought information from other sources, to make the journey a little smoother and easier to understand.  From reading “The Happiness Trap” and “The Reality Slap” by Dr Russ Harris, to watching the brilliant “Man Up’ series by Gus Worland on ABC, through to listening to the “Be A Man” podcast series.  All of these have given me something to carry with me as this journey of life continues, hopefully better equipped at each stage to deal with the next hurdle.

There are also a number of great websites available to visit that deal with men’s health, particularly mental health.  From Men’s Health Week to Gotcha4Life to Beyond Blue and Lifeline – all of these, plus many others sites are out there to provide you with the information and support that you require, particularly if you are reluctant or hesitant to talk to anyone.

So the take home message is get in and see your doctor – nothing is too embarrassing to raise in that consultation, and we are able to provide the support and direction that is required to keep life on a healthy path, even if that’s not the path it’s presently taking!

By Dr Ian Walsh, SmartClinics Clayfield




Dr Kelly is Retiring from General Practice

“After a long and happy career in general practice, I will be retiring on the 15th June 2018.

I’m leaving you in the trusted hands of the experienced Doctors at SmartClinics Clayfield who can tend to the medical needs of you and your family. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, my patients, for your support over the years. It has been my utmost pleasure to have helped you and your family”.

Warm wishes,


SmartClinics Clayfield Doctors are:

  • Dr Sir-Kit Leong
  • Dr Genevieve Keane
  • Dr Ian Walsh
  • Dr Julie Heiser (currently not accepting new patients)
  • Dr John Turnbull

For more information about these Doctors, you may like to view their Doctor bios.

SmartClinics Clayfield is located at: 695 Sandgate Road, Clayfield 4011

(Opposite Clayfield College)

If you would like to Book An Appointment please call 3268 1937 or click here.
The clinic has ample parking as well as pathology services.
Click here to view a map. 

Kidney Health with Dr Sir-Kit Leong

When you see your GP and request a health check/ ‘check up’, have you ever wondered what it entails?

As part of an adult health check, your GP would usually look at your kidneys – we call it in medical terms: renal function.

I would like to share some thoughts of why kidney health is important…

We have a pair of kidneys and they are tugged behind our lower end of back chest wall (posterior thoracic wall).

The kidneys have multiple functions. To name a few, the regulation of blood pressure, removing waste/toxins, maintaining electrolyte balance, red cell production, and regulating bone health.

We do not normally feel unwell from kidney injuries/damages, in fact, we may not feel unwell until we have lost 90% of our kidney function.

Kidney problem can affect any age group, young or old. One in three people is at risk of developing kidney problems, and less than 10% of population are aware that they have kidney disease/injury (source: Kidney Health Australia).

How do we look after our kidneys?

Put simply, looking after your kidneys similar to looking after your heart and blood pressure. You can reduce the risk of kidney disease by developing healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, keeping well hydrated and avoiding excessive alcohol  consumption. If you are on medications, check  with your GP that they do not affect the kidney functions.

As part of the health check, there are some simple blood and urine tests which are performed alongside a physical examination by your GP to determine your kidney health.

Monitoring kidney health is particularly more important in people who have or at risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, are overweight, or for those who are taking multiple medications. Members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are also at higher risk.

For those who do not have existing health conditions, it is also essential to have your kidney  health looked at , for the aforementioned reasons.

We can treat kidney disease if we make the effort to have them checked early.


For more information about Dr Sir-Kit Leong, or to book an appointment, click here.



2018 Supercharged Flu Vaccines

Looking for 2019 Flu Vaccinations?


PAST BLOG POST 2018 This year’s ‘Superflu’ vaccines 

You may have recently heard about this year’s release of stronger flu vaccines in the News.   The media has referred to them as “turbo vaccines” or “supercharged vaccines” but what does that really mean? Dr Ian Walsh from SmartClinics Clayfield (pictured left) answers your questions below…

What is an enhanced flu vaccine?

Reference to ‘Turbo’ or ‘Supercharged’ vaccines relates to two types of 2018 vaccines that will be made available to patients 65 years and older, as it stimulates a stronger immune response in these patients. These will be branded as either FLUAD Adjuvanted Trivalent Influenza Vaccine or FluZone and are now available in most medical centres around Queensland. The Government will supply them free of charge for patients aged 65 and older.

What if I’m aged 18 – 65 years of age?

Adults under the age of 65 will receive a Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine that provides very high protection against 4 strains of Influenza.  You can buy this flu vaccine today for only $9.95 when bought online as part of our Early Bird offer. Many GPs are also offering bulk billed flu shot appointments this year to keep healthcare affordable. Click here for more information or to buy your vaccine now.

Should I wait for the Government-funded vaccine?

It’s highly recommended that adults get vaccinated as soon as the standard vaccine is available (in March) as this will help avoid an early outbreak of the flu. You can buy yours now, and we’ll let you know once it has arrived at the clinic.

What about flu vaccines for children?

This year the Queensland Government will fund vaccines for Infants aged 6 months to under 5 years. To be notified by email when this vaccine arrives at your local clinic please click here. If you have children aged 5 years to 17 years, you can pre-buy the children’s vaccine for $9.95 as part of our early bird offer.

For more information about 2018 Flu Vaccinations click here

To pre-order your vaccine today, or to set a reminder email, click here