Australia: Health Related Critical Judgments, Legislation, Press Releases and News Items

Health Alert 18 October 2010
Last Updated: 18 October 2010
Article by Andrew Forbes


Queensland. District Court

Malcolm v Hertess [2010] QDC 372 (7 October 2010)

LIMITATION OF ACTIONS – CONTRACTS, TORTS AND PERSONAL INJURIES – where the limitation period for an action for damages for personal injuries to the plaintiff allegedly caused by her doctor's negligence – whether there was a material fact of a decisive character – whether the material fact of a decisive character was within the plaintiff's means of knowledge – whether the period of limitation for the action should be extended. Limitation of Action Act 1974 (Qld) ss 30(1) & 31(2)

Adams v Hertess [2010] QDC 369 (6 October 2010)

APPLICATION TO EXTEND TIME FOR COMMENCEMENT OF PROCEEDINGS CLAIMING DAMAGES FOR PERSONAL INJURIES PURSUANT TO S 31(2) OF THE LIMITATION OF ACTIONS ACT 1974 – Material fact of a decisive character relating to the right of action – alleged medical negligence – whether or not a right of action established – prejudice to defendant due to passage of time - s21 Civil Liability Act 2003- Doctor and Patient- give or arrange to be given information about risk.

South Australia

Wilks v Medical Board of SA [2010] SASC 287

This case concerns an appeal made by a medical practitioner to the Supreme Court of South Australia after the practitioner's application for registration to practice medicine in South Australia was refused by the Medical Board of South Australia.

In 2007, the medical practitioner in question was subject to disciplinary proceedings before the Medical Practice Board of Victoria for unprofessional conduct of a serious nature in relation to sexual conduct towards three female patients. The findings and orders of the Medical Practice Board of Victoria were affirmed on review by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

As result, the medical practitioner's registration to practice medicine was cancelled for a period of five years. The medical practitioner subsequently applied for registration as a medical practitioner in South Australia. The Medical Practitioners Board of South Australia refused this application on the grounds that it could not be satisfied that the medical practitioner was a fit and proper person to be registered.

The Supreme Court of South Australia dismissed the medical practitioner's appeal. In so doing, the Court noted that the medical practitioner's actions had the potential to erode public confidence in the medical profession. While the Court identified that the appeal was not a disciplinary proceeding, it concluded that there was an overriding duty to protect the public from unprofessional medical practitioners.

Victoria. Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal

Cobaw Community Health Services v Christian Youth Camps Ltd & Anor (Anti-Discrimination) [2010] VCAT 1613 (8 October 2010)

Anti-discrimination – refusal of services - refusal or failure to accept application for accommodation – sexual orientation – personal association with persons identified by sexual orientation – representative claim – exceptions - body established for religious purposes – conforms - doctrines of the religion – necessary – injury to religious sensitivities – comply – genuine religious beliefs or principles – right to equality and freedom from discrimination – right to freedom of thought conscience religion and belief – right to freedom of expression – interpretation of remedial legislation – interpretation of exception to remedial legislation – application of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 – intervention by Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission - Evidence – whether Briginshaw test applies – Opinion evidence – independence of expert witnesses – relief – declaration – compensation - Equal Opportunity Act 1995 – ss 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 42, 49, 75, 77, 102, 104(1B) - Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 – ss 1, 2, 7, 8, 14, 15, 32, 40 – Evidence Act 2008 – s 140

Victoria. Coroners Court

497007 Louise Litis (PDF 758KB)

This case concerned an investigation by the Coroners Court of Victoria into the death of Ms Louise Litis.

On 30 November 2007, Ms Litis was admitted to a Private Hospital with a diagnosis of major depression. She was subsequently admitted to the Mother Baby Unit where she was supported in caring for her son. Shortly after midnight on 5 December 2007, Ms Litis was found in the bathroom adjacent to her room, unconscious and in a state of low suspension hanging. She had removed the nurse call button from her room to use its cable as a ligature, after jamming it between the closed bathroom door and its architrave.

The Coroner sought an independent review of Ms Litis care at the Hospital. While the independent assessment concluded that the process for assessment and management of suicide risk patients at Northpark needed review, it identified evidence that the Hospital provided reasonable care for Ms Litis.

In response to this assessment, the Coroner recommended the following:

Rooms in the Mother Baby Unit at the Hospital that are to be occupied by patients with a high possibility of suicide, should be fitted with nurse call button apparatus that are incapable of being used as a ligature. Potential hanging points within the rooms need to be indentified and removed.

Protocols be established to ensure family members, willing to be involved in the psychiatric care of a family member, are engaged at the outset and be given the opportunity to ongoing management options.

Protocols be established to ensure detailed and accurate notes are maintained of a patient's psychiatric assessment, diagnosis and management plan.

New Zealand. Health & Disability Commissioner

08HDC18402 Midwife/Maternity Clinic - Postnatal care provided to woman with pyrexia.



Health Insurance (Bone Densitometry) Determination 2010 - F2010L02646 - Health - This Determination revokes the Health Insurance (Bone Densitometry) Determination 2009 to replace the fees with new fees, due to annual indexation and make a minor amendment to the drafting of item descriptors to ensure consistency with the Health Insurance (General Medical Services Table) Regulations.

National Health (Listed drugs in Part A or Part T of F2) Determination 2010 - F2010L02643 - Health - This instrument determines which drugs on F2 are on Part A of F2 and which are on Part T of F2.

National Health (Listed drugs on F1 or F2) Determination 2010 - F2010L02642 - Health - This instrument determines which Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listed drugs are on F1 and which are on F2. This instrument also repeals PB 66 of 2007 and PB 87 of 2007.

Australian Capital Territory

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) (Transitional Provisions) Regulation (No. 2) 2010 No. 39 - commenced on 12 October 2010.


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

15 October 2010 - Government to Deliver More Maternity Services in Regional Australia - The Australian Government has increased funding for maternity training for doctors that will see more obstetric and anaesthetic services, and support for women in rural and remote areas.

14 October 2010 - World Sight Day Highlights Indigenous Eye Health Challenge - World Sight Day (14 October) has provided an opportunity for a reminder of the need to reduce the high rate of eye disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

13 October 2010 - $5 Million Grant for Medical Training Facility at Geelong - More doctors, nurses and allied health professionals are set to be supported in Geelong as part of the Australian Government's health reforms to deliver better health and hospitals for all Australians, with the announcement today for up to $5 million for a dedicated education precinct and ward-based training facility within a new Epworth HealthCare private not-for-profit hospital.

Private Health Insurance Circulars

PHI 68/10 - Information Sessions on New Medicare Benefit Schedule Items for Midwives

PHI 67/10 - Hospital Information

PHI 66/10 - Benefit Negotiations for New Applications

PHI 65/10 - Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA) Events Information

PHI 64/10 - Private Health Insurance (Benefit Requirements) Amendment Rules 2010 (No.7) - Changes to Second Tier Eligible Benefits

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (added Dronedarone Hydrochloride & Fibrin sealant)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (added Rituximab)

Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee recommendations for the composition of influenza vaccine for 2011 (new)

Australian Code of Good Wholesaling Practice for medicines in schedules 2, 3, 4 & 8 (new)

Public submissions: September 2009 consultation on draft Code of Good Wholesaling Practice (new)

NCCTG feedback on submissions (new)

Notice to sponsors: 2010-11 annual charges - low value turnover exemption applications (extension of due date)

Sibutramine (Reductil) – Withdrawal in Australia (new)

ACPM meeting dates (updated)

Regulatory Status of Brachytherapy Kits (new)

Australia. National E-Health Transition Authority

E-health focus in new RACGP standards - 8 October 2010. NEHTA has welcomed the increased number of specific criteria to address e-health in the 4th edition of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices launched at GP10 in Cairns today. Read more: E-health focus in new RACGP standards

Finalised Healthcare Identifiers Implementation Approach and Communications plan - 7 October 2010. NEHTA is pleased to announce the release of the finalised Healthcare Identifiers Implementation Approach and Communications plan. Read more: Finalised Healthcare Identifiers Implementation Approach and Communications plan

Can e-health improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes? - 5 October 2010. E-health has the capacity to enhance the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to Dr Brad Murphy, an Aboriginal man from the Kamilaroi people of northwest New South Wales and a solo GP in Eidsvold (central Queensland). Dr Murphy is also the Inaugural Chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Read more: Can e-health improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes?

WA e-Procurement system a national first for health - 24 September 2010. Western Australia has become the first State to implement an electronic trading system for medical goods and services that complies with the latest national e-procurement specifications developed by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA). The new system, linked to the National Product Catalogue for medical goods and services, will significantly streamline supply chain operations in WA's public health sector enabling multiple suppliers to offer products and manage the ordering, payment and dispatch processes electronically. Read more: WA e-Procurement system a national first for health

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

A snapshot of arthritis in Australia 2010 - This snapshot brings together the latest data on arthritis in Australia. The purpose of the snapshot is to provide the latest statistical information in a timely and efficient manner. Published 15 October 2010.

Medical labour force 2008 - The supply of employed medical practitioners increased between 2004 and 2008, from 283 to 304 full-time equivalent practitioners per a population of 100,000. The increase reflected a 20.5% rise in practitioner numbers. Published 13 October 2010.

Nursing and midwifery labour force 2008 - In 2008 the total number of registered and enrolled nurses estimated by the Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force Survey was 312,736, an increase of 10.6% since 2004. Published 13 October 2010.

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Step-Up/Step-Down Facilities Expand Katy Gallagher, MLA October 14 2010

BreastScreen ACT goes digital Katy Gallagher, MLA October 14 2010

Specialist surgical assessment unit adds more beds to Canberra Hospital Katy Gallagher, MLA October 13 2010

You're invited to meet Cabinet Ministers in Belconnen Katy Gallagher, MLA October 12 2010

ACT Bonded GP Scholarship Scheme (13 October 2010) - These GP Scholarships encourage ANU medical students to work in Canberra after graduation.

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

NSW Whooping Cough Alert [15 October 2010]

Farewell To Acting Chief Executive of GSAHS [08 October 2010]

Policy directive

Children and Infants with Fever - Acute Management PD2010_063 11/10/2010

Information bulletins

Christmas & New Year Holidays & Concessional Leave 2010/2011 - Department of Health IB2010_053 14/10/2010

Notification of Obsolete Policy Directives IB2010_052 11/10/2010

Northern Territory. Department of Health & Families

Media release

Kon Vatskalis - A Time to Focus on Our Wellbeing - Mental Health is an important issue for everyone, with one in five Territorians experiencing a mental illness at some point in their lives, Health Minister Kon Vatskalis said today at the Mental Health Week launch at Parliament House.

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases


12/10/2010 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council meets in Rocky

11/10/2010 South East Queensland residents are being urged to keep clear of flooded creeks and streams.


04/10/2010 Mental Health 'mentors' guide patient recovery (Bundaberg)(PDF 123KB)

The Townsville Hospital Redevelopment

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Mental health champions honoured - Monday, 11 October 2010 - South Australia's champions of mental health have been recognised during a prestigious state awards ceremony in Adelaide this morning. Read more...

Extra resources to ease ED pressure - Monday, 11 October 2010 - The State Government has launched its new $109 million campaign to relieve pressure on busy hospital Emergency Departments. Read more...

12 Oct 10 - Water fluoridation to begin in Mount Gambier

09 Oct 10 - Whooping cough case at Loxton Hospital

08 Oct 10 - SA marks Mental Health Week

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

Operational Health Budgets Announced Minister for Health 12 October 2010

Major North West Regional Hospital Redevelopment Opened Minister for Health 8 October 2010

2009-10 DHHS Annual Report 14 Oct 2010

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases







Review of the Mental Health Act

Public Briefing Sessions

The Executive Director of the Mental Health, Drugs and Regions Division in the Department of Health is delivering two public briefing sessions on the Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill 2010.  The first briefing session on Friday 15 October is now full, but there are still places available at the briefing on Wednesday 20 October 2010 - Venue: Lecture Theatre, Level 1, Royal Society of Victoria, 8 Latrobe St, Melbourne VIC 3000. If you would like to attend this briefing please call 1300 656 692 or email to register. Please note, registration is essential and places are limited.

Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill 2010

In September 2010 the Government announced an exposure draft process as part of the final stages of the review of the Mental Health Act 1986. An Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill 2010 has been prepared for public comment. An Explanatory Guide has also been prepared which sets out the main features of the Bill and aims to assist stakeholders and community members to provide feedback on the proposed new Mental Health Act. After considering this feedback, the Bill will be finalised with the intention that it will be introduced into Parliament in the first half of 2011. This is subject to the outcome of the November Victorian election.

You are invited to make a submission on the Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill.

Submissions can be mailed to:

Review of the Mental Health Act

Department of Health

GPO Box 4541


Or submissions can be made online at:

The closing date for submissions is Friday 3 December 2010.

The Government has released an Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill 2010 for public comment (PDF file 1.80MB)

The Government has released an Explanatory Guide to the Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill 2010 (PDF file 472KB)

Information sheets

Information sheet 1: Supported decision making, improving patient participation and carer involvement (PDF file 186KB)

Information sheet 2: Compulsory treatment orders and provisions affecting security and forensic patients (PDF file 736KB)

Information sheet 3: Mental Health Tribunal (PDF file 627KB)

Information sheet 4: Mental Health Commissioner and complaints (PDF file 405KB)

Information sheet 5: Review Officers (PDF file 180KB)

Information sheet 6: Security and forensic patients (PDF file 633KB)

Information sheet 7: Overview of Bill (PDF file 182KB)

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

15 October 2010 - Nurses Agreement Reached

15 October 2010 - New online service makes Chlamydia testing easy and discreet

13 October 2010 - Profiling the health and wellbeing of WA children

13 October 2010 - Auditor General's findings "a snapshot in time"

12 October 2010 - LHMU strike action has minimal impact

9 October 2010 - 2010 Nurse / Midwife of the Year announced

8 October 2010 - New pay offer for hospital support workers

8 October 2010 - Unlicensed tobacco seller fined $3000

13 Oct 2010Hames - Fremantle Hospital opens new coronary care unit

12 Oct 2010Jacobs - Awards celebrate achievements in mental health

10 Oct 2010Jacobs - Investing in the mental health of young West Australians

12 October 2010 - Health and Wellbeing of Children in Western Australia 2009, Overview and Trends (PDF 922KB)

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Reaching out to carers innovation fund 200/20111

'Six Lives' progress report

NHS Referral to Treatment waiting times statistics, August 2010

The proposals to implement 'Generic Substitution' in primary care, further to the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) 2009

The NHS Constitution and Whistle blowing - A paper for consultation

Immform help sheets

Healthy Start consultation

Resource limit adjustment (RLA): Interim cancer drugs funding

Expanding the list of 'never events'

Canada. Health Canada

Government of Canada Works with Alberta to Improve Drug Treatment Services Aimed at Youth [2010-10-14]

Minister Aglukkaq Announces Two Year Extension of Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative [2010-10-14]

Government of Canada Works with Saskatchewan Communities to Help Prevent Young People from Taking Illicit Drugs [2010-10-13]

Government of Canada Works with the Province of Manitoba to Reduce Illicit Drug Use [2010-10-12]

Opaskwayak Cree Nation Celebrates a New Health Facility Funded Through Canada's Economic Action Plan [2010-10-08]

Government of Canada Works with Yukon and its Communities to Help Prevent Young People from Taking Drugs [2010-10-07]

Government of Canada Works with Northwest Territories and its Communities to Help Prevent Young People from Taking Drugs [2010-10-07]

Government of Canada Works with Alberta Communities to Help Prevent Young People from Taking Illicit Drugs [2010-10-04]

Australian Medical Association

Medicare patient rebates fail to keep pace with cost of delivering quality care 15 October 2010 - 8:30am - The AMA today called for proper and realistic indexation of Medicare patient rebates following notice from the Department of Health and Ageing that the patient rebate for a standard GP consultation will increase by just 60 cents from 1 November 2010. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said the overall Medicare fee increase of 1.8 per cent is inadequate when compared with the Labour Price Index of 2.96 per cent and CPI of 2.92 per cent. [The Labour Price Index (2.96 per cent) and CPI (2.92 per cent) have been calculated by Access Economics based on actual data for the three quarters, December 2009 to June 2010, and a forecast for the September 2010 quarter.]

Medical student training funding welcome and must be supported by graduate training places 13 October 2010 - 5:00pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that the AMA welcomes additional funding for medical student training announced by the Government today. Dr Pesce said the funding would only deliver the desired future medical workforce results if it were complemented with comprehensive workforce planning arrangements and extra training places for medical graduates once they have finished their university courses.

GP Network News Issue 12, Number 35 - 8 October 2010 8 October 2010 - 12:00pm - Claiming Health Assessments, AMA Council of General Practice, Rural Medical Committee, Plain Packaging Poll and AMA anti-violence kit

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