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).
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The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team
New South Wales. Nursing & Midwifery Tribunal
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.
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.
Public And Environmental Health Act 2011 - Act No. 7 of 2011 - assented to on 16 March 2011 (not available online)
Health and Community Services Complaints (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2011 - No 5 of 2011 - assented to on 17 March 2011
Australia. Department of Health & Ageing
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
Australia. House of Representatives. Standing Committee on Health & Ageing
Australia. Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs References Committee
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
Biologicals framework (updated)
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
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
Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health
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
Measles alert - Make sure you are vaccinated [24 March 2011]
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
21/03/2011 MORE BEDS SOONER FOR IPSWICH HOSPITAL
South Australia. Department of Health
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
Victoria. Department of Health
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
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
New Zealand. Ministry of Health
United Kingdom. Department of Health
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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