Australia: Health Alert - 21 February 2011

Last Updated: 21 February 2011
Article by Michael Regos

21 February 2011

Welcome to this week's edition of Health Alert.  The Health Alert is transmitted on Monday of each week (unless there is a public holiday on Monday).

Health Alert is a summary of the critical judgments, legislation, press releases and news items which have come to our attention each week.  Many of the summaries will contain a hyperlink.

If an item is of special interest, we may insert commentary into the body of Health Alert.  However in general, Health Alert is a quick and effective means of ensuring that you are aware of significant recent changes with little or no commentary from us.

If you would like to include a colleague or contact on our distribution list, or be removed from the list and not receive further issues from us, please contact Legal Updates at legal with the relevant contact details.

The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team


Victoria. Coroners Court of Victoria

Redacted interim Ruling on Cause of Death - Broughton Hall (PDF 2.3MB)

This interim coronial ruling concerned the causes of the deaths of four residents of the Broughton Hall Nursing Home following an outbreak of gastroenteritis. The Coroners Court heard submissions from counsel for the nursing home and from counsel assisting the coroner regarding the legal test for causation of death in the coronial context, as opposed to the civil or criminal law.

State Coroner, Judge Coate referred to the South Australian Supreme Court case of Saraf v Johns in holding that causation will be established where something plays a sufficient and material part in the death under investigation to warrant being acknowledged by a reasonable and competent medical practitioner on the death certificate as a contributing cause.

All four deceased were found to have gastroenteritis as at least an antecedent cause, which contributed in a material way to their deaths. Accordingly the deaths were ordered to remain part of the coronial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

New South Wales. Nurses & Midwives Tribunal

HCCC V O'Hagan [2010] NSWNMT 37 (21 December 2010)

This Nurses and Midwives Tribunal of NSW decision concerned a complaint that a registered nurse's conviction of wilful and obscene exposure in public rendered him unfit to practice as a nurse. Throughout the tribunal hearing, the nurse continued to deny that he had masturbated in a car park, despite a court finding to that effect.

The tribunal ruled that it had to determine whether the nurse was unfit as of the date of the hearing, rather than as at the date of commission of the offence. It viewed the nurse's consistent denial of the offence as a factor to be taken into consideration when determining fitness to practice. However, non admission was held to not be sufficient to lead to a finding of unfitness to practice. It noted that the offence was not committed within the practice of nursing and that the nurse had cooperated with police and complied with his good behaviour bond.

The Tribunal ended by noting that it is not the fact that a nurse has committed a crime, but the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime, which influence determinations regarding fitness. The unlikelihood of the nurse reoffending and the lack of any underlying pathology led the tribunal to find that the requisite standard for proving unfitness and a lack of good character were not established.

United Kingdom

British Pregnancy Advisory Service v Secretary of State for Health [2011] EWHC 235 (Admin) (14 February 2011)

XYZ v Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust [2011] EWHC 243 (QB) (14 February 2011)



Quality of Care Amendment Principles 2011 (No. 1)


Australia. Council of Australian Governments

COAG Communiqué: 13 February 2011 - RTF 133KB | PDF 39KB

Attachment A – Heads of Agreement - National Health Reform RTF 221KB | PDF 531KB

Australian Health Ministers' Conference

17 February 2011 - AHMC Communique

17 February 2011 - AHWMC Communique

Australia. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Framework for the introduction of parallel TGA and PBAC processes

Framework for the introduction of a Managed Entry Scheme for submissions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee

Fact Sheet for Be medicinewise

Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Prime Minister, Minister for Health announces National Health Reform - The Prime Minister and the Minister for Health have announced a new deal delivering national health reform that will last, built on a genuine partnership between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories.

Media releases

Private Health Insurance Circulars

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

11/04 17 January 2011 Updated phiac1 validation now available on PHIAC website CURRENT EDITION 11/04

11/03 17 January 2011 Fluctuation in Risk Equalisation - December quarter 2010 and March quarter 2011 CURRENT EDITION 11/03

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Consultation: Proposed revisions to the Required Advisory Statements for Medicine Labels (RASML) Update 6 (new)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (updated) - Colistimethate sodium - Tocilizumab

Advisory Committee on Non-prescription Medicines (ACNM) members (updated)

Reasons for Delegate's interim decisions, February 2011 (new)

Public submissions on matters referred to ACCS-ACMS#1 and ACMS#1 (December 2010) (new)

Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines (ACCM) members (updated)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (updated) - Pancreatic extract - Tapentadol - Trastuzumab

Safety advisory - SATURO capsules

Therapeutic Goods Committee 36th meeting, Summary of key resolutions (new)

Application audit (technical file review) of IVD medical device applications (new)

Call for input: Review to improve transparency of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (added submissions)

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

NHMRC Tracker – 11 February 2011 edition

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

AHPRA welcomes outcome of Health Ministers Council - 18 Feb 2011 Statement from AHPRA

Update on Lapsed Practitioners - 11 Feb 2011 

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

An increase in the incidence of pertussis has been observed in the ACT over the last six months. A similar increase has been observed in NSW. Current information on numbers of cases can be found on the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System website. The NSW Health website also contains some important information about preventing the spread of pertussis. - Whooping Cough (Pertussis) (17 February, 2011)

A Local Hospital Network for the ACT (14 February 2011) - The way forward - provides the outcomes of discussions, the public consultation process, and maps the journey for the ACT.

Media releases

New South Wales. Department of Health

SPANS 2010 - NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey - Executive Summary

Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Meeting - Message from the Director General of NSW Health.

Policy directives

Information bulletins

Northern Territory. Department of Health & Families

Media releases

Queensland. Department of Health

My Smoking - Queensland Health's new anti-smoking campaign (new site)

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

  • 17 Feb 11 Whyalla Country General Hospital 10 year health service plan released
  • 17 Feb 11 Port Lincoln Country General Hospital 10 year health service plan released
  • 17 Feb 11 Mount Gambier Country General Hospital 10 year health service plan released
  • 17 Feb 11 Riverland Country General Hospital 10 year health service plan released
  • Country General Hospitals plan for the future - Wednesday, 16 February 2011 - Community-led plans charting the next decade for four of South Australia's major country hospitals have been released. Read more...
  • Blackwood Hospital meeting - Wednesday, 16 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has met with the administrators of the Blackwood and District Community Hospital for an update on the next steps for the former employees and creditors. Read more...
  • Nurse practitioner scholarships awarded - Saturday, 12 February 2011 - Forty nurses have been awarded scholarships to study for Masters degrees to become Nurse Practitioners. Read more...
  • Bigger better emergency dept for Berri - Wednesday, 09 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill says Riverland locals and visitors will benefit from the expansion and refurbishment of the Riverland Regional Hospital's emergency department. Read more...
  • Private country hospitals - Tuesday, 08 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has updated Parliament on progress to secure a long-term financial future for private country hospitals in Keith, Moonta and Ardrossan. Read more...
  • Health performance council report - Tuesday, 08 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has tabled in Parliament the first report by the Health Performance Council (HPC) into the public health system in South Australia. Read more...
  • Barossa health service business case - Tuesday, 08 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has tabled in Parliament the business case for the development of a new 40 bed hospital in the Barossa Valley. Read more...
  • New units mean faster treatment - Thursday, 03 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has opened a new 30-bed Acute Medical Unit (AMU) and an expanded Intensive and Critical Care Unit (ICCU) at Flinders Medical Centre. Read more...
  • Giant crane gets to work on new institute - Wednesday, 02 February 2011 - Health Minister John Hill will be on site at the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute as the next phase of work begins. Read more...

Victoria. Department of Health

Health Victoria. February 2011 - Read latest edition

Pertussis epidemic - Chief Health Officer Advisory for health professionals - In the past two years, the incidence of pertussis in Victoria has increased dramatically, with 1673 cases notified in 2008, 3741 cases in 2009 and 6736 cases in 2010. (17 Feb 2011)

Extension of 'Interim Approval' to practice as a nurse immuniser - The nurse immuniser interim 'Approval' under regulation 5(3) Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2006 is now extended to 30 June 2011. This replaces the 'Approval' signed by the Delegate of the Secretary, Department of Health, 29 June 2010.

Minister for Mental Health's announcement - January 2011 (PDF file 45KB)

New Zealand. Mental Health Commission

10 February 2011, New 'Talking to Kids About..." workshop series from Skylight Trust

4 February 2011, Executive Chair Expenses from 1 July 2010 to 31 December 2010

1 February 2011, The Mental Health Commission acknowledges and thanks Dr Janice Wilson

13 January 2011, Latest press release regarding the recent Coroners report relating to the death of Jerry Korewha at Hutt Valley District Health Board

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Next steps for healthy start. Adding plain frozen fruit and vegetables and minimising voucher misuse. Response to consultation

Directions concerning all transactions involving property 2011

Analysis report on the 2009 consultation on the statutory regulation of practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and other traditional medicine systems practised in the UK

Enabling Excellence: Autonomy and Accountability for Health and Social Care Staff

CNO Bulletin, February 2011

A guide to working with offenders with personality disorders

The Government's response to 'Raising our sights: services for adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities', a report by Professor Jim Mansell

Eliminating mixed-sex accommodation: declaration exercise

Health visitor implementation plan 2011-15: a call for action, February 2011

Transforming community services transformational guides

GP Bulletin, February 2011

Reaching Out to Carers Innovation Fund

Equitable Access Programme: Primary Medical Care Services

Best practice for ensuring the efficient supply and distribution of medicines to patients

No Health without Mental Health: a cross-Government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages

£30m funding for children's palliative services: details of successful first and second round applications

Department of Health people survey results 2010

Government response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee third report of session 2010-11: commissioning

Medical Directors' Bulletin, Issue 109, January 2011

The month: issue 39, January 2011

Birmingham Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling and Addiction Research

Annual HPV vaccine coverage in England in 2009/2010

Invitation to be an early implementer for health and wellbeing boards

Spiritual care at the end of life: a systematic review of the literature

Bereavement care services: a synthesis of the literature

Multiple Sclerosis Risk Sharing Scheme

Mental Health Act 1983: proposed amendments in the Health and Social Care Bill 2011

Health and Social Care Bill 2011

Reporting the death of a person subject to an authorisation under the Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Canada. Health Canada

Canada signs declaration on promoting healthy lifestyles and health care delivery in the Arctic [2011-02-16]

Harper Government Strengthens Food Allergen Labelling Regulations [2011-02-14]

United States of America. Department of Health & Human Services

HHS releases new strategic plan to advance vaccine and immunization science and policy for the next decade - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled a new National Vaccine Plan to enhance coordination of all aspects of federal vaccine and immunization activities. Its goal is to ensure that all Americans can access the preventive benefits of vaccines.

BARDA Supports Development of Drugs to Protect Against Radiation - Two contracts for advanced development of drugs to treat skin and lung injuries associated with acute radiation syndrome (ARS) were awarded this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

Health and Human Services Launches Health Indicators Warehouse to Support Innovation  - Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a new web portal providing important health and health care indicator data to support innovations in information technology.

United States of America. Centres for Disease Control

Latest Report on Nation's Health Released - 'Health, United States, 2010,' the 34th annual report prepared by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics is now available at The report includes a compilation of health data from state and federal health agencies as well as an in-depth feature section on death and dying.  (Published: 2/16/2011)

Australian Medical Association

Health Ministers acknowledge big problems with AHPRA and national registration - 17 February 2011 - 5:47pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the AMA welcomes the acknowledgement by Health Ministers that there are significant administrative problems with the new Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency (AHPRA) that must be urgently fixed. Dr Pesce said the AHPRA problems have had a significant impact on doctors and their patients. "Some doctors have had to stop working until their registration has been reinstated, and patients have been unable to claim Medicare rebates because their doctors were suddenly unregistered due to AHPRA processes," Dr Pesce said.

AMA Submission to DoHA on the Role and Governance of Lead Clinician Groups - 17 February 2011 - 3:00pm - The AMA made a submission on the role and governance of Lead Clinician Groups to the Department of Health and Ageing in response to a discussion paper released on 25 January 2011. The AMA strongly opposes the limited role for doctors described in the discussion paper.  The AMA's submission provides a model for Lead Clinician Groups that ensures doctors are involved in decisions made at the local hospital level about resource allocation, service planning and provision, and patient care.

Local Lead Clinician Groups - 2011 - 17 February 2011 - 3:00pm - Medical practitioners (doctors involved in patient care) have long held concerns that decisions about how health services are delivered and resources for health services are allocated, are made without proper advice from the medical profession. Over time, decisions about the allocation and use of health resources have shifted away from doctors, and away from where care is delivered.  Consequently, Australia's health system is not responsive to local needs, and opportunities to improve clinical safety and quality are lost. The establishment of Lead Clinician Groups will ensure medical practitioners have a role in the stewardship of health care resources. This position statement focuses on how Lead Clinician Groups will operate at a local level. AMA policy on national Lead Clinician Groups will be developed when more detail is available on their proposed role and interaction with other national guideline development bodies. The structure of Lead Clinician Groups, the governance arrangements underpinning them and their relationship with government decision-making bodies will be critical to their effectiveness in supporting and guiding policy and decision makers in shaping the future of the Australian health system.

AMA sets priorities for strong investment in the health system - 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Releasing the AMA Federal Budget Submission, AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the Government should use this year's Budget to make overdue significant investment in key areas of the health system. Dr Pesce said that, even though economic and fiscal conditions are putting pressure on Commonwealth spending, there is no better investment that governments can make than in the health of the nation. "While we have areas of excellence in our health system, we also have many areas where we should and could be doing a lot better," Dr Pesce said.

Health prevention priorities 16 February 2011 - 9:30pm - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Health prevention priorities

Climate change and health 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Climate change and health

E-health 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: E-health

Rural health 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Rural health

Non-vocationally registered GPs 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Non-vocationally registered GPs

Other GP priorities: [after-hours services; practice nurse funding; GP-referred MRI; and Point-of-Care Testing (PoCT)] 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Other GP priorities [after-hours services; practice nurse funding; GP-referred MRI; and Point-of-Care Testing (PoCT)]

Chronic disease management 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Chronic disease management

GP infrastructure 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: GP infrastructure

Aged care 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Aged care

Health and medical research 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Health and medical research

Workforce and training 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Workforce and training

Long-term care and disability support 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Long-term care and disability support

Health financing 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Health financing

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Mental health 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Mental health

Public hospitals 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Public hospitals

Federal Budget Submission 2011-12: Health – the best investment that governments can make 16 February 2011 - 9:30am - The AMA Budget Submission identifies areas where additional investment in health care and health infrastructure is needed and should be considered in the forthcoming Federal Budget.  The AMA does not suggest that the answer to every question is to spend more. We have identified areas where the Government can spend more effectively.

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