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

Health Alert 28 March 2011
Last Updated: 28 March 2011
Article by Andrew Forbes

28 March 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 with the relevant contact details.

The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team


New South Wales. Nursing & Midwifery Tribunal

HCCC v ROBERTSON [2011] NSWNMT 5 (11 March 2011)

This New South Wales Nursing & Midwifery Tribunal decision concerned a nurse who pled guilty to stealing a prescription pad, forging prescriptions and knowingly causing forged prescriptions to be presented. The nurse had used the forged prescriptions to feed her dependency on Tramal, an opioid used for treating pain.

The Health Care Complaints Commission did not seek de-registration.

The Tribunal charged itself with the task of deciding whether the nurse was unfit in the public interest to practice nursing; whether the nurse was guilty of professional misconduct; whether the nurse was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct; and whether the nurse was addicted to a deleterious drug.

The Tribunal found the nurse was addicted to Tramal, Panadene Forte and Oxycontin, all of which were deleterious drugs. However, the nurse was held to have had sufficient insight into her condition and was fit in the public interest to continue practicing. On the other hand, her theft and forgery clearly constituted unsatisfactory professional conduct. The Tribunal reprimanded the nurse and imposed extensive conditions on the nurse's drug use, as well as conditions requiring the nurse to be supervised when practicing for the next twelve months.

FLYNN v HCCC [2011] NSWNMT 6 (14 March 2011)

The New South Wales Nursing & Midwifery Tribunal in this decision had to determine whether a nurse was eligible for reinstatement of registration that had previously been cancelled by the same Tribunal. The nurse's registration had lapsed in 2008 after he failed to pay his fees. Shortly afterwards, the Nurse had been found guilty by the Tribunal of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct for, amongst other actions, taking 10 ampoules of morphine sulphate from the drug cupboard of the hospital he was employed in and administering the morphine sulphate to himself.

The Tribunal noted that review was sought of the order that the nurse not be entitled to apply for re-registration for 18 months, which was not expressly included in the definition of reviewable orders. Nonetheless, it concluded that there was no evidence of legislative intent to prohibit the Tribunal from hearing such reviews, consequently finding that it did have jurisdiction.

The Tribunal found that the nurse had taken steps to regain control over his life, that he was no longer unfit in the public interest to practice, and that the likelihood of a relapse into addiction was low. The Tribunal re-instated the nurse's registration, while requiring him to continue to comply with conditions on his registration including regular urinalysis.



Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2011 Measures No. 1) Bill 2011

National Health (Price and Special Patient Contribution) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 3) (PB No. 25 of 2011)

Northern Territory

Public And Environmental Health Act 2011 - Act No. 7 of 2011 - assented to on 16 March 2011 (not available online)

South Australia

Health and Community Services Complaints (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2011 - No 5 of 2011 - assented to on 17 March 2011


Health Services Amendment (Health Innovation and Reform Council) Bill 2011


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

25 March 2011 - Access to Indigenous Health Services Eased by New Health Brokers - A new health brokerage service has been established for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the inner north of metropolitan Melbourne.

24 March 2011 - Record Number of Doctors in Training Delivered by National Health Reform - A record 900 GPs have started training this year, as a result of the Australian Government's national health reforms.

23 March 2011 - Progress Made to 'Close The Gap' in Indigenous Health - On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the National Close The Gap day, the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, met with some of the 355 additional health staff funded across Australia to help close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

21 March 2011 - Safeguards for Hospitals Welcomed - Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon has welcomed the passing of key health reform legislation that will drive safe, high quality health care for all Australians.

18 March 2011 - Mental Health Reform Update - The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, provides an update on what the Australian Government is doing to advance reforms in mental health.

Private Health Insurance Circulars

PHI 19/11 - Waiting Periods in Relation to Benefits for Obstetric Treatment.

PHI 18/11 - Private Health Insurance (Complying Product) Amendment Rules 2011 (No. 2) and Private Health Insurance (Benefit Requirements) Amendment Rules 2011 (No.2)

Aged care

22 March 2011 - Aged Care Nursing Postgraduate Scholarships.

18 March 2011 - CACP, EACH and EACHD care recipient contribution rates effective 20 March 2011.

Australia. House of Representatives. Standing Committee on Health & Ageing

Advisory Report on the National Health Reform Amendment (National Health Performance Authority) Bill 2011

Australia. Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs References Committee

Donor conception practices in Australia

Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

Japan Nuclear Incident - ARPANSA is closely monitoring the nuclear crisis in Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami. ARPANSA has issued advice on radiation exposure and health protection measures for Australians remaining in Japan and those Australians returning to Japan, including advice for medical practitioners. ARPANSA continues to develop new and revised information as the situation develops. Check the website for recent updates. - View advices >

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Advisory Committee on Medical Devices (ACMD) members (updated)

Biologicals framework (updated)

Prescription medicine BPR update newsletter – March 2011 (new)

Scheduling of medicines and poisons  - * Reasons for delegate's decisions, March 2011 (new) - * Further public submissions on interim decisions - matters initially referred to ACCS-ACMS#1 and ACMS#1 (December 2010) (new) - * Scheduling news (updated) - * Application to amend the Poisons Standard (updated template)

Transparency review public meetings (added meeting notes)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (updated) - *Tapentadol

Consultation: Streamlined submission process - electronic submission dossier requirements (new)

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

Safety advisory: 'Superpowerful Man' tablets (new)

Safety advisory: Fu Yuan Chun capsules (new)

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

Mobility scooter injuries examined in ACCC report - New research into injury data found a total of 442 hospitalisations related to motorised mobility... Issued: 24th March 2011 Release # NR 054/11

ACCC releases report on mobility scooter injuries - The ACCC released a report today that examines mobility scooter injuries.

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

NHMRC ATSIHAC Chair appointed University of Queensland's inaugural Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Education) 24 March 2011 - Congratulations to Professor Cindy Shannon, Chair of the NHMRC's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Advisory Committee, appointed as the first ever Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Education), University of Queensland. Professor Shannon will lead UQ's strategy to strengthen Indigenous education and links to the community. - Further information

Partnerships tackle the health issues of our age 22 March 2011 - Exercise programs to prevent falls for older Australians, web-based support for new mums, and clot-busting drugs to treat stroke are among sixteen health and medical research projects to receive $14 million in funding. - View Media Release

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

AHPRA cooperates with Senate Inquiry - 24 March 2011 Statement from AHPRA

Board update on English language skills registration standard - 21 March 2011 Statement from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

National Registration and Accreditation of the partially regulated professions - 18 March 2011

Nursing and Midwifery Board Joins Twitter

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Minister encourages community groups to apply for health promotion funding Katy Gallagher, MLA March 22 2011

Health Minister welcomes Salt Awareness Week Katy Gallagher, MLA March 21 2011

Salt Awareness Week 2011 (22 March 2011) - Excessive salt intake is a major cause of high blood pressure, and puts you at risk of cardiovascular and renal disease.

Health Promotion Funding Rounds (22 March 2011) - Stay On Your Feet® Falls Prevention Funding Round and Health Promotion Sponsorship Funding Round are now open.

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

Another call to avoid Mosquitoes as Kunjin and Murray Valley Encephalitis viruses detected in NSW [24 March 2011]

Measles alert - Make sure you are vaccinated [24 March 2011]

Information bulletins

Nurses' Association Annual Conference and Professional Day 2011 IB2011_017 22/03/2011

Locating Procurement Checklists IB2011_016 22/03/2011

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases




Health Matters new online edition

Bariatrics and the Family Workshop & Conference - 18th- 20th May

Mount Isa Community Lead Screening Program 2010 Report

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Building a better Women's and Children's Hospital - Wednesday, 23 March 2011 - Work will start soon on the $64.4 million upgrade of the Women's and Children's Hospital (WCH). - Read more...

Award for Mount Gambier's cancer team - Wednesday, 23 March 2011 - Mount Gambier Health Service staff have been recognised by the SA Cancer Clinical Network for their pivotal work setting up the State's first rural Cancer Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). Read more...

Liberals wrong on Modbury again - Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has condemned a "small minded" Liberal attack on the redevelopment of Modbury Hospital. - Read more...

$36M Ceduna hospital redevelopment - stage one complete  - Tuesday, 22 March 2011 - The State Government's $36 million redevelopment of Ceduna District Health Service has reached a major milestone, with the completion of Stage One. Read more...

Port Pirie blood lead levels - Monday, 21 March 2011 - Blood lead levels in Port Pirie children have continued to improve over the past five years. Read more...

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

Main Works Begin on Mersey ED Minister for Health 24 March 2011

Dorset Bites into Food Security Project Minister for Health 22 March 2011

Victoria. Department of Health

Media release

Updated health warning on mosquitoes - 24.3.11 Published : - 24/03/2011

Detailed consultations on mental health reform - 18 March 2011 - A series of in depth discussions will be held over the next three weeks to promote robust debate and discussion on ways to improve Victoria's mental health laws.

Respecting Victoria's diverse cultures - 18 March 2011 - One of Melbourne's major public hospitals is working to provide even better care for people with a disability, of indigenous background, and Victoria's culturally diverse community.

Hospital circular - Publication Number 07 / 2011 - 20 March 2011 - Date issued: 20 March 2010 - Subject: Public Hospital Charges - Changes

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

21 March 2011 - WA improves infant and maternal mortality rates

22 March 2011 Morton $1.5million grant for treatment of alcohol and other drug dependency

21 March 2011 Morton Minister applauds mental health scholarship winners

19 March 2011 McSweeney Minister launches Young Carers WA website

Perinatal Infant Maternal Mortality Cohort in WA 2004-2008 combined (PDF 823KB)

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

24 March 2011: New Zealand Health Survey: Been invited to take part? Learn more here

17 March 2011: Targeting Emergencies: Shorter Stays in Emergency Departments

United Kingdom. Department of Health

The Cancer Drugs Fund: Guidance to support operation of the Cancer Drugs Fund in 2011-12

The Quarter, quarter 3 2010/11

Supporting partnerships to reduce alcohol harm: key findings, recommendations and case studies from the Alcohol Harm Reduction National Support Team

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on dental recall, letter from Barry Cockcroft, Chief Dental Officer - England

UK influenza pandemic preparedness strategy 2011: strategy for consultation

Alcohol misuse

Payment by Results: Step-by-step - calculating the 2011-12 National Tariff

The Good Practice Guidelines for GP electronic patient records - version 4 (2011)

Access to the NHS by foreign nationals - Government response to the consultation

Impact assessment of extending the 'period of absence' for UK residents

Impact assessment of Exemptions for Failed Asylum Seekers

Health Canada

Government of Canada Announces Funding to Support Training for Family Medicine Residents in Prince Edward Island [2011-03-23]

Government of Canada Announces New Monitoring System for Multiple Sclerosis [2011-03-23]

Australian Medical Association

Dr Pesce, Speech at Breathing New Life into General Practice Conference 24 March 2011 - 9:30am - General Practice - Quality, Capacity, Sustainability - Way back in 2001, the AMA was one of the first organisations to recognise the impending serious workforce shortage in General Practice in Australia. We instantly took the GP shortage message to governments, the media and the Australian community. At the start, nobody wanted to listen. But we kept going with the message year after year after year. And eventually the Government got the message. There have been recent increases in the number of medical undergraduates to begin to reverse this shortage – if we can convince enough of them to pursue a career in general practice. Read more

Medicare Locals - AMA proposes a better model 24 March 2011 - 2:30pm - The AMA today released its Position Statement on Medicare Locals and urged the Government to adopt the AMA recommendations to establish better primary health care organisations (PHCOs) than the currently proposed Medicare Locals model. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the main function of Medicare Locals must be to better support the role of the GP in delivering services to patients. "GPs are the highest trained practitioners in the primary health care setting and have a key role in the coordination and management of care for patients," Dr Pesce said. Read more

Australian Medicine 1 March 2011 - 9:00am - Australian Medicine is the national news publication of the Federal AMA. As well as reporting what the AMA has to say about health policy and medical people, places and events, Australian Medicine contains information about member services and benefits. Australian Medicine is published monthly, 12 times a year with an online issue published fortnightly, 22 times a year. Read more

Integrated primary care the key to closing Indigenous health gap 23 March 2011 - 2:50pm - AMA Vice President and Chair of the AMA Indigenous Health Taskforce, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that appropriate primary health care services for Indigenous people would achieve dramatic results in reducing the health inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Ahead of Close the Gap Day tomorrow, the AMA congratulates members of the Close the Gap coalition on five years of the campaign to achieve Indigenous health equality within 25 years, and reiterates its support for integrated primary health care for Indigenous people. Read more

National Health Performance Authority 24 March 2011 - 12:00pm - The AMA made a submission in response to the National Health Reform Amendment (National Health Performance Authority) Bill that was tabled in Parliament on 3rd March 2011 and referred to the House of Reps Standing Committee on Health and Ageing for inquiry. Amendments were sought to empower the new Authority to report on, and impose penalties for, data manipulation and to address other issues of concern including adequate consultation with medical practitioners. The Authority will report on the performance of: local hospital networks; public hospitals; private hospitals; primary healthcare organisations; and other bodies or organisations that provide health care services. Read more

Medicare Locals - 2011 24 March 2011 - 2:30pm - Medicare Locals have the potential to impact on a wide range of health care services. The AMA believes they should be introduced in a manner consistent with the AMA's overall health vision and which is respectful of the existing role of the General Practitioner and other community based specialists. This position statement includes details of the AMA position on the governance, functionality, accountability, fund holding and boundaries of Medicare Locals.

Prostate cancer - rural Australian men less likely to survive 20 March 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA release: Survival rates for prostate cancer are poorer for rural men than urban men, according to a study in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Research finds ibuprofen linked to life-threatening potassium deficiency 20 March 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA Release: Painkillers containing ibuprofen can be linked to a rare condition that can result in potentially fatal potassium deficiency, a case series in the Medical Journal of Australia has found.

Patients admitted to ICU after-hours or on weekends are more likely to die 20 March 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA Release: Patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) after hours and on weekends have an increased risk of mortality, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

New guidelines developed for patients with low-risk prostate cancer who are receiving androgen deprivation therapy 20 March 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA release: Men with prostate cancer who are being treated with androgen deprivation therapy are at increased risk of osteoporotic fractures, type 2 diabetes, and possibly, cardiovascular events, a new set of management guidelines states.

British Medical Association

BMA comment on King's Fund Inquiry into General Practice Commenting on the King's Fund report "Improving the Quality of Care in General Practice", released today (Thursday 24 March 2011), Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee, said: ... (Thu 24 Mar 2011)

Hospitals will be unable to fund entire departments, BMA Consultants Chairman warns NHS cuts and the drive for competition will leave hospitals unable to fund entire departments, the Chairman of the BMA's Consultants Committee has said. (Wednesday 23 March 2011)

American Medical Association

AMA Report Finds Physicians Support Millions of Jobs - AMA Press Release, March 23, 2011 - Study provides snapshot of the economic impact of office-based physicians at state and national level. Read the AMA Press Release

World Health Organisation

March 2011 - Contribute to the public hearing on international recruiting of health personnel - A web-based public hearing from 21 March to 17 April 2011 will discuss the draft guidelines for monitoring the implementation of the WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel.

March 2011 - Medicines for the most vulnerable - Increasing access to medicines for the most vulnerable populations in low- and middle-income countries is the goal of the recently launched "Access to Medicines Policy Research". This initiative aims to increase access through the formulation of sound pharmaceutical policies.

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