Dr Seema Basil Named GP of the Year in the WA Rural Health Excellence Awards

Mawarnkarra Health Service’s Senior Medical Officer Dr Seema Basil has been named GP of the Year at the 2022 Rural Health West Excellence Awards.

Dr Basil has been a passionate champion of Aboriginal health at the Roebourne Aboriginal Medical Service for the past nine years. Her role is to come with up with new ways to improve service delivery and to design the processes that help her team do the most good for the community.

Some of the projects she has initiated have included remote assessment and treatment of patients with Hepatitis C, allowing patients to stay on Country for management of their condition. She has also been instrumental in setting up visiting respiratory, endocrinology and cardiology services to address the needs of the community and reduce waiting times for access to specialist assessment. Dr Basil has also applied herself to supporting children with neurodevelopmental disability. She played a critical role in introducing a FAS-D clinic in 2021 in Roebourne so that children and families have the support they need to maximise their chances for educational and societal success. Most recently she has been working to develop a visiting hepatology service to Mawarnkarra to address the increasing incidence of liver disease, as well as securing an exercise stress testing machine to address issues around access to testing and prolonged waiting times.

Dr Basil is a British-Indian-Australian who grew up in Kenya. “I was first exposed to socio-economic disadvantaged as a child and felt deeply moved by the poverty and hardship I witnessed,” Dr Basil said. “I have always had a strong desire to contribute my part to society, especially to help those who are marginalised and disadvantaged.”

After completing a medical degree at the University of Dundee in Scotland, Dr Basil worked for several years in Glasgow hospitals as a physician before commencing a career in General Practice, training in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the city. In 2009 she returned to London where she worked as a GP largely to ethnic minority groups before taking up a one year contract to work in Aboriginal Health at Mawarnkarra Health Service.

“After eight months at Mawarnkarra Health Service I was offered the role of Senior Medical Officer and my one year outback adventure has turned into nearly 10,” Dr Basil said.

“It has been a journey of great personal discovery. By taking a leap of faith to come out here, I have been rewarded with trust and opportunity. My connection to the community is invaluable. I love the people of Roebourne and what’s even more special is that I feel loved by them.

Dr Basil said that although she is far away from her family, the Mawarnkarra family has helped fill that space. “I love Ngarluma Country, I find it beautiful and peaceful and a special place to live. I have also loved the opportunity to be a doctor who does more. It has been very stimulating to go beyond the standard of metro general practice, to learn greater skills because specialists are not so readily available,” she said.

Dr Basil said Mawarnkarra had a collaboration underway with hepatology services at Royal Perth Hospital, with telehealth clinics commencing in November.

“This clinic will address not only advanced liver disease and viral hepatitis, but it will also help with specialist support for managing increasing numbers of metabolic- associated fatty liver disease cases,” She said.

“It is on my wish-list to get a Fibroscan for the clinic which will remove the need for patients to travel to Perth for imaging to rule out advanced liver fibrosis or cirrhosis when there is diagnostic uncertainty. Additionally, we have now secured our own stress test equipment and it’s very exciting to soon be able to provide this service on site with support from Western Cardiology. I am still working towards increasing access to diagnostic assessments for children with neurodevelopmental problems, not just related to Foetal Alcohol Sydrome and Autism, but also the largely overlooked developmental delay that can happen as a result of trauma. I would like to see a sustainable model for assessing children in the Pilbara with easy to access pathways for therapies and education supports,” Dr Basil said.

Dr Basil has been named a finalist by Rural Health WA for the past two years, and her innovation and commitment to improvement also helped Mawarnkarra Health Service be named as a finalist of the Pilbara Community Service award.

Congratulations to Mawarnkarra Health Service and to Seema Basil for this great acknowledgement.