Category Archives: General

Newsletter – December 2023 – January 2024

Hearing Loss in Adults

As we get older, our senses are less acute. It is estimated that over half of Australians aged between 60 and 70 have some hearing loss, increasing to 80% in those aged over 80. Severity, of course, varies. Hearing loss can be sensorineural (affecting the cochlear and/ or nerve, conductive (blockage in the middle ear), or mixed. Generally, aged related loss is sensorineural. Additional risk factors include noise exposure, genetics, ear trauma and chemical exposure.


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Child and Adolescent Obesity

We tend to think that only America has issues with weight. The reality is that 1 in 4 Australian children are overweight or obese. This is a significant increase in one generation. Why? Firstly, Children tend to snack on high calorie foods and drinks, and second, is replacing physical activity with time on screens. We can't turn back time, but it not all bad news. There is much you can do as a parent or guardian to help a child get and maintain a healthy weight.


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Deep Vein Thrombosis

A Thrombus is a blood clot. The ability of the body to form clots is critical as this stops bleeding when we cut ourselves. However, a blood clot forming in a blood vessel can cause serious problems.


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Eczema – Prevention and Treatment

Eczema is a red, itchy rash often starting in infancy or early childhood. The most typical places are the face, neck and "flexures" which are the skin creases at the knees and elbows. It can be a few scattered areas or may be widespread. It ranges from the mild to severe and may weep or be crusty.


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Stingers in the water

While shark attacks often make headlines, other creatures in the water can cause problems when swimming. These are many and varied and influenced by season and where on the coastline you are. Most jellyfish stings are not serious but can be itchy or painful.

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Healthy Smoothies for Kids

Healthy Berry Smoothy and Healthy Green Smoothy


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Christmas 2023

Its almost that special time of the year again, a time to reflect on what a big, fast year we’ve had and to enjoy time with our families and friends.

Christmas Hours

Christmas is most truly Christmas

when we celebrate it by giving the light of love

to those who need it.

Merry Christmas

While you are in Brook Medical Centre this year, your children are encouraged to find our Elf on the Shelf.

Mr and Mrs Elf is back this year and are already having lots of fun each night. If your children can spot our Elves while they are in the surgery, they will get a little surprise bag. Please help them join in the fun with our cheeky Elves.


Congratulations Dr Rikard-Bell on your Retirement and Receiving The Bowman Cutter Award



For nearly 42 years Dr Mark Rikard-Bell has called Muswellbrook his home.

Since his graduation 45 years ago, Dr Rikard-Bell has devoted 42 of those years to our community and we have been the richer for it!

Dr Rikard-Bell has decided the time has come to hang up his stethoscope, pack away his sphygmomanometer and get some well-deserved time to devote to himself, his wife, Dr Delma Mullins, his children, and many grandchildren.

“It is hard to put into words the deep appreciation and difference Mark has made, and to thank him for all his years of dedication and service to our community” says Managing Partner Dr Raj Swamy. “Having a career spanning so long, it is hard to outline his extraordinary vocation”.


Dr Rikard-Bell only retired from obstetric practice 5 years ago and has continued to be a procedural GP at the Brook Medical Centre.  His ambition was always to be a Procedural Rural GP and he has certainly become the quintessential rural general practitioner!

Dr Rikard-Bell delivered over 3000 babies in his time in Muswellbrook over 35 years until ceasing obstetric practice 5 years ago. During that time, he performed caesarians, as well as twin and breech deliveries. There are many families in town who were delivered by Dr Rikard-Bell, and he subsequently delivered their children, which is a unique privilege enjoyed with long term service in one community.

He was also the anaesthetist for many elective and emergency surgical lists.

Over the past 10 years, as Dr Rikard-Bell planned to decrease the obstetric and anaesthetic component of his General Practice work, he gained advanced training in skin cancer management and surgical skills to expand his procedural work, with better hours.

With GP work, the patient demographic ages and he was able to recognise and train for their medical needs, particularly with decrease in local surgical services for skin cancer management.

Dr Rikard-Bell has previously commented: “This is another joy of rural GP work, as we are a unique part of our patients’ journey and adapt to their changing needs. I always felt very privileged to be able to grow with my patients.”

Dr Rikard-Bell has certainly enjoyed Rural Procedural GP work to the full. His legacy for all Rural GPs will be lasting due to the difference he has made and the insight he has been able to provide to the Rural Doctors Association (RDA) and the Ministry of Health.  His goal is and always has been for quality patient care in a rural setting.


His career and dedication have not gone unnoticed by the Rural Doctors Association. He was nominated for, and subsequently won the Bowman Cutter award for 2023. The Bowman Cutter award is indeed prestigious, and only given to those Drs who have provided exceptional service to the Rural Community they work and serve in.

Dr Rikard-Bell was an apt choice as a recipient, and, although quite humbled by the award, is rightfully proud.

Not unlike the reputation that he is well known for, he has chosen to fulfil his obligations as VMO on call at the emergency department of Muswellbrook Hospital instead of accepting this award in person.  This will be his last on call shift and he will not miss an opportunity to help and do his duty.

“With retirement fast approaching we have the privilege to reflect on the exceptional career of a doctor who has given so much to so many.  Many thousands of babies, many thousands of families, the sick, elderly, and vulnerable, have all had the advantage of being cared for by this true gentleman and gifted Doctor. Our whole community, the many nurses he has worked alongside, junior Doctors and registrars he has taken time to teach, and all his colleagues past and present have been positively impacted by Dr Rikard-Bell.” Says Practice Manager Kristen Seymour.

He has been able to provide all patients with his unique blend of caring, compassion and medical expertise.

He is synonymous with the Brook Medical Centre and our town. All 6 daughters of Mark and Del were raised and educated in Muswellbrook.  This is a true testament to his devotion to the community.

The true measure of a man is in his heart and character – what he gave with what gifts he had.  His true measure was his life’s work and loyalty to our community. He is genuinely loved and deeply respected.

Happy retirement Dr Rikard-Bell!



October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We are wearing Pink again this October to raise awareness for Breast Cancer.

1 in 7 women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. That could be you, a family member or friend.

Breast Cancer can affect men and women, and there are several types of Breast Cancer

Early detection is best to increase chances of a full recovery.  The Breast Screen Bus is in Muswellbrook now, up until the 20th of October. Click here to book an appointment.

We will have Breast Cancer Ribbons at the desk for you to add your name, a family members name or a special message on. We will display them in our windows for the month of October.




October – November Newsletter

Memory Loss

What worries people most about getting older is the prospect of memory loss. The good news is that while the total number of people with dementia is increasing, the percentage of the population is declining. Work over the last three decades shows that as each cohort gets older, fewer people are being diagnosed with dementia.


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Urinary Incontinence: Tips to manage the problem

The inability to control one's bladder is a silent problem; people do not talk about it. Yet it affects an estimated 13% of Australians, including 37% of women.


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How to manage stress in a busy life

The last few years have been highly stressful for many people. Stress is regarded as the scrouge of the 21st century. Everyone feels stressed at some stage. Relationships, money and work, are consistently shown in poling to be the big three.


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Drug induced liver injury

The liver can be injured by many prescriptions, over-the-counter and herbal medications, as well as some dietary supplements. Usually, the damage is mild and reversible.


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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is a condition where women without previously known diabetes have raised blood glucose (sugar) during pregnancy. Some are thought to represent previously undetected cases of Type 2 Diabetes. It is most common in the third trimester and affects an estimated eight to ten percent of pregnancies.


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Recipe of the Month

Chicken,Broccoli and Cashew Stir-fry


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Today is R U OK? Day.

A reminder to check in on those we love, be kind and listen, not just today but everyday.

It is also a reminder to look after yourself.

If you need to talk you can book in to see one of our Doctors or you can call for help.

Lifeline: 131114
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Headspace:1800 650 890






September is Dementia Awareness Month

Dementia describes a collection of symptoms caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease.

No two people experience dementia in the same way and it is essential to get a medical diagnosis when symptoms first appear.

Dementia can happen to anybody, but the risk increases with age.It depends on a combination of age, genes, health and lifestyle and is not a normal part of ageing. Caring for someone with Dementia

This month we will be raising awareness of Dementia.


If you are concerned about your memory or that of a friend or family member you can book an appointment to see one of our GP’s or contact Call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500








This week the laws on wearing masks in high-risk settings have been relaxed. Therefore, on Friday 1st of September, it will no longer be a regulation to wear a mask at the Brook Medical Centre.


The decision to wear a mask in our high-risk setting will be your decision to make.


If, however, you have Covid or are exhibiting cough, cold, or flu like symptoms you will be required to wear a mask whilst in the surgery.


This has certainly been a long time coming.  The Doctors and staff thank you for your understanding during this challenging time.








We are now taking bookings for some of our Doctors via HotDocs.

You can use the HotDocs app or website at your own convenience to book an appointment, or click the link below. It is very easy to use - How to Book via HotDocs

Our friendly staff are still available to you for appointments and enquiries from 8:30am to 5:30pm.


Book Appointment



August – September Newsletter

Dry Eye

The eyes need constant lubrication, which is provided by the tear glands. Eyes become dry of tears for two main reasons.


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The term Telehealth has generally not been used outside medical circles. It applies to the use of technology (video or phone)to deliver medical services.


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Varicose Veins

Widened, often twisted, veins near the skin surface are called varicose veins. They are most common on lower legs.


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Relevance of Exercise in Childhood

Once upon a time, chil,dren didn't require "exercise" as a separate activity because the led active lives by walking to and from school and engaging in outdoor play rather than spending excessive time in front of screens.


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The body has several air-filled sinuses below, above, and behind the eyes in communication with the nasal passages. Their role is to warm and filter air and produce mucous to trap dust and other irritants we may inhale. Too much mucous production, swelling of the linings or blocking of the internal passage can lead to sinusitis.


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Recipe of the Month

Chinese Style - Chicken and Corn Sweet Soup


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