Australia: Health Alert - 23 July 2012

Last Updated: 26 July 2012
Article by Andrew Forbes


Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal

Medical Board of Australia v Grant [2012] QCAT 285 (2 July 2012)

The Medical Board of Australia (applicant) brought proceedings against Dr Peter Joseph Grant, a general practitioner (respondent), after he prescribed anabolic steroids and other restricted drugs for body building rather than therapeutic purposes.

Over nine years, the respondent inappropriately prescribed medications to 14 patients. He treated them for varying periods of time. The Tribunal stated that it was likely that the respondent became known by members of the body building community as a doctor who was willing to prescribe steroids for body building purposes.

The respondent submitted that there was a risk that his patients would buy "impure" products off the internet. He thought he was keeping an eye on his patients' physical health by giving them "pure" products instead. Furthermore, he found it difficult to say no to his patients.

The Tribunal stated that if professionals felt justified in abusing their authority to prescribe, simply because their patients could obtain drugs illegally, Australia's system of drug distribution would be subverted. The Tribunal also stated that it was reasonable to assume that the respondent, who read body building publications, was aware that some of the drugs he prescribed may have been diverted to others.

The parties agreed on a proposed sanction involving conditions on the respondent's registration and a reprimand. However, considering the circumstances of the current case compared to previous cases, the Tribunal decided that the respondent should have conditions placed on his registration, and suspension if he breached these conditions or was subject to further disciplinary action.

Victoria. Coroners Court

045110 Baby N (PDF 49.7KB)

258010 Baby J (PDF 1.17MB)

3369 Baby Ju (PDF 1.14MB)

340909 Baby K (PDF 1.13MB)

These inquests concerned the deaths of four infants arising from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In all four cases the infants shared a sleep surface with another person.

The Coroner's Prevention Unit researched sleep-related infant deaths. The review identified factors that could confer benefits on infants sharing sleep surfaces and factors that could put them at greater risk, such as maternal smoking or sharing the bed with siblings.

Dr Yeliena Baber, a forensic pathologist, provided an expert report recommending that the infant be placed at the foot of the bed in a "supine" position. She said that side sleeping should be avoided.

Dr Baber stated that it was not possible to say whether, in the absence of documented risk factors, sharing a sleep surface was clearly associated with an increase or decrease in the risk of SIDS. However, the risk of asphyxia made it inherently dangerous to have a small infant on a shared bed surface.

The Coroner commented that sharing a sleep surface with an infant in its first six months of life is dangerous and should not happen. He recommended that the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development consistently deliver health messages to care-givers regarding sleep practices at key development milestones through the pre- and post-natal period. He also recommended these Departments make a revised Infant Safe Sleeping Policy by aligning public health and health promotion advice with the SIDSandKIDS Information Statement.

Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal

Sherman v Medical Board of Australia (Occupational and Business Regulation) [2012] VCAT 946 (4 July 2012)

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria) Act 2009 (National Law); sections 82, 83; registration after 14 years; recency of practice.



National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 4) - F2012L01552 " SLI 2012 No. 168 as made

Health Insurance (Pathology Services Table) Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 2) - F2012L01553 " SLI 2012 No. 167 as made

Health Insurance (Pathology Services) Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 1) - F2012L01550 " SLI 2012 No. 166 as made


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

  • 20 July 2012 - Faster Assessment of the Impact of Industrial Chemicals - Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King has welcomed the launch of a framework to provide a faster, more flexible and transparent approach to assessing the impact of industrial chemicals on human health and the environment.
  • 19 July 2012 - Scholarships for Next Generation of Aged Care Nurses - Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler called on budding nurses to apply for one of 715 aged care nursing scholarships worth up to $30,000.
  • 18 July 2012 - Funding for New Dementia Café in Riverwood - Dementia sufferers in Riverwood and surrounding areas will have an opportunity network and engage in the community through a new Dementia Café funded by the Federal Government.
  • 18 July 2012 - Living Longer Living Better in Seven Hills - Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler joined local MP Michelle Rowland in Seven Hills to report back to the community on the Government's $3.7 billion aged care package.
  • 18 July 2012 - New Headspace for Greater Western Sydney - A new headspace youth mental health service will open in Penrith to support young people dealing with depression, substance abuse and other mental health issues.
  • 17 July 2012 - Community to Receive Almost $1 million for Home Care - Seniors in Robertson will receive more support to stay in their homes thanks to a $994,350 boost to the Home and Community Care Program.
  • 17 July 2012 - Food and Nutrition Guide Launched - Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King today launched Australia's Food and Nutrition 2012, a comprehensive report on the key components of Australia's food and nutrition system.
  • 17 July 2012 - Headspace to Open in Newcastle - A new headspace youth mental health service will open in Newcastle to support young people dealing with depression, substance abuse and other mental health issues.
  • 17 July 2012 - Living Longer Living Better in the Hunter - Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler joined local MP Jill Hall today in Belmont to report back to the community on the Government's $3.7 billion aged care package.
  • 16 July 2012 - Record Number of GP Training Places in 2013 - The Federal Government will recruit a record number of junior doctors into GP training places in 2013 with selection to 1,100 entry places currently underway across the country.
  • 16 July 2012 - Transparency Reforms on Track at TGA - The Federal Government today announced that it would establish an Australian Therapeutic Goods Advisory Council later this year to provide broad strategic advice to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with an emphasis on improving communications between the regulator and its key stakeholders.

Private health insurance circular

E-mental health strategy for Australia

Public Consultation Australian Immunisation Handbook - 10th Edition

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

Industry Education Seminars 2012 - Evaluation - 16 July 2012

Circular 12/24 - 13 July 2012 - Council Approved Forms: Notification of Change in Insurer Details - Further Update

Circular 12/25 - 13 July 2012 - Expressions of Interest Competition Research on the Private Health Insurance Industry

Circular 12/23 - 13 July 2012 - New PHIAC 3 template for prostheses reporting to be used from the September 2012...

Circular 12/22 - 13 July 2012 - Position Vacant - Premium and Competition Unit

12 July 2012 - Council Approved Forms: Notification of Change in Insurer Details - Update - Current Edition - 12/21

12 July 2012 - Outsourcing Standard Made Into Law - Current Edition - 12/20

12 July 2012 - Merger of AHM and Medibank Private's health benefits funds - Current Edition - 12/19

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Boards

17 July 2012 - Important information from the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia about Limited and General registration, with or without conditions. | Read Article

17 July 2012 - The Dental Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

16 July 2012 - The Chiropractic Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

16 July 2012 - The Optometry Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. - | Read Article

13 July 2012 - The Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

12 July 2012 - National Notifications Committee Member Vacancies - Pharmacy Board of Australia. | Read Article

11 July 2012 - The Chinese Medicine Board of Australia has now issued guidance to practitioners about when it is necessary to be registered. | Read Article

10 July 2012 - [Medical Board] The National Specialist International Medical Graduate Committee releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

10 July 2012 - The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué | Read Article

10 July 2012 - The Pharmacy Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

10 July 2012 - The Physiotherapy Board releases its latest newsletter. | Read Article

9 July 2012 - The Podiatry Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

6 July 2012 - The Osteopathy Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

4 July 2012 - The Psychology Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué. | Read Article

Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care

On the Radar – 16 July 2012 – Issue 88 (96KB)

On the Radar – 9 July 2012 – Issue 87 (80KB

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

19 July 2012 - Dialysis and kidney transplantation in Australia: 1991-2010 (media release)

18 July 2012 - An enhanced mortality database for estimating Indigenous life expectancy: a feasibility study

17 July 2012 - Australia's food and nutrition - Australia's food and nutrition: in brief (media release)

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

17 July 2012 - Thank you to external assessors of Project Grant applications

10 July 2012 - Maintaining Public Trust: Managing Conflicts of Interest in the NHMRC

13 July 2012 - Research Tracker

Australia. National Blood Authority

Deactivation of the National Blood Supply Contingency Plan

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

19 July 2012 - Summary of fees and charges at 1 July 2012 - Updated summary of TGA fees and charges for the 2012-2013 financial year.

19 July 2012 - Seminar: Reclassification of hip, knee and shoulder joint replacement implants - The TGA is holding a seminar in Sydney on 3 August 2012 to provide information and assistance on the transition process.

18 July 2012 - Documents released under Section 11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) - Added FOI 216-1112 and 333-1112 documents.

18 July 2012 - Australian Public Assessment Reports for prescription medicines (AusPARs) - Added 4 AusPARs.

17 July 2012 - Black salve, red salve and cansema - Black salve, red salve and cansema are products containing an active ingredient called sanguinarine.

16 July 2012 - Transparency reforms on track at the TGA - The Federal Government today announced that it would establish an Australian Therapeutic Goods Advisory Council later this year to provide broad strategic advice to the TGA, with an emphasis on improving communications between the regulator and its key stakeholders.

16 July 2012 - Delivering reforms - Implementation plan for TGA Reforms: A blueprint for TGA's future - The TGA is implementing a comprehensive package of reforms drawn together by the Federal Government and announced in the TGA reforms: A blueprint for TGA's future.

13 July 2012 - PIP breast implants - TGA update - Updated information on safety concerns with PIP breast implants.

13 July 2012 - Evidence required to support indications for Listed medicines (excluding sunscreens and disinfectants) - draft - Added submissions and TGA response.

10 July 2012 - Reasons for scheduling delegates' interim decisions and invitation for further comment, July 2012 - Interim decisions and reasons for scheduling decisions and invitation for further submissions.

10 July 2012 - Public submissions on DMAA referred to ACMS#6 (July 2012) - Public submissions on DMAA referred to ACMS#6 (July 2012).

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Nursing and Midwifery Office Newsletter - Issue 14 June 2012 (PDF File - 3829k).

10 July 2012 - Pneumococcal Vaccine - A free supplementary dose of Prevenar 13 (Pneumococcal Vaccine) for children one to two years of age is available for a limited time.

New South Wales. Ministry of Health

Media release

Policy directives

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

Rural VMO Recruitment and Retention Fund

Queensland. Health Quality & Complaints Commission

Queenslanders report positive healthcare experiences

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases

Comparative audit of blood transfusion policy and practice 2011 (PDF)

Diversity News No. 43 July 2012 (doc)

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Health and Wellbeing of Adults 2011, An Overview and Trends (PDF 1.43MB)

12 July 2012 - OD 0383/12 - The WA Health Code of Conduct has been amended to reflect links to new Public Sector Commissioner's Instructions and Guide.

New Zealand. Department of Health

16 July 2012 - New Zealand Health Emergency Medical Assistance Team Operational Manual - This manual describes the mission, function, recruitment processes and operating procedures for a medical assistance team to provide health support for a geographic area where health services have been overwhelmed by a disaster, either in New Zealand or the south-west Pacific.

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Government announces care and support reforms - The Government has announced the biggest reform of the care and support system since 1948.

NICE to assess high cost low volume drugs - The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to take forward work to assess very high cost drugs for people who suffer with rare conditions.

Draft Care and Support Bill now open for comment online - The Department of Health is seeking your views on the draft Care and Support Bill. You can explore the Bill and comment online.

Consultation on funding allocations for independent mental health services - In this consultation the Department is asking for your views on options for distributing funding to local authorities for Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) services and the Armed Forces' compensation.

Last chance to feed comments into Dementia Challenge champion groups - The health and care champion group and the dementia friendly communities champion group, which are working as part of the PM's Dementia Challenge, would like to hear your views.

Transplant Alliance Strategic Plan published - The Department is publishing the National BAME Transplant Alliance's three-year strategic plan to address the underrepresentation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people on whole organ and bone marrow registers.

Care and support White Paper published - The Department has published the Caring for our future: reforming care and support White Paper, which sets out the vision for a reformed care and support system.

Draft Care and Support Bill published - The draft Care and Support Bill has been published. It creates a single law for adult care and support, replacing more than a dozen different pieces of legislation.

Government publishes progress report on social care funding reform - The Government has published a progress report on social care funding reform – Caring for our future: progress report on funding reform.

Government response to the Law Commission report on adult social care - The Department has published Reforming the law for adult care and support: The Government's response to Law Commission report 326 on adult social care.

Consultation on a new adult safeguarding power - The Department is consulting on a new adult safeguarding power. Our aim for adult safeguarding is to ensure there is a clear legal and policy framework.

Health visitor numbers rising - The Department is on track to meet its commitment to increase the number of health visitors by an extra 4,200 by April 2015.

Consultation on new care objectives for improving health and healthcare - New objectives for the improvement of health and healthcare have been set out for public consultation.

Health Secretary's annual report on the NHS and public health published - The Secretary of State's annual report has been published today, a year earlier than is required by law.

Paul Burstow calls for improvement in the early diagnosis rates of dementia - Update 4 July 2012: An audio clip of Paul Burstow talking about the importance of early diagnosis of dementia is now available at the end of this post.

Bereavement survey published - The Office for National Statistics has published the results of the first national survey of bereaved people.

Canada. Health Canada

18 July 2012 - Minister of Health Attends Inaugural Meeting of the Advisory Council on Traditional Chinese Medicines

17 July 2012 - Welcome Home, Hélène Campbell! - Harper Government Announces Organ Transplant Investment

10 July 2012 - Health Canada Announces Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

20 July 2012 - Middle-aged Australians encouraged to have regular medical checkups - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today it is vital that middle-aged Australians have regular check-ups with their family doctor. Dr Hambleton said that the first major health scare that people experience can happen during middle age, and it changes the way people think about their health and manage their health care.

20 July 2012 - AMA plan to meet the challenged of chronic disease - The AMA today released its AMA Chronic Disease Plan: Improving Care for Patients with Chronic and Complex Care Needs, a considered response to meeting the growing challenge of chronic disease in an ageing population. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said the plan sets out ways to improve the treatment of people with complex and chronic disease in primary care.

19 July 2012 - GP Infrastructure Grants a better way to build better primary care in local communities - The AMA is urging the Government to expand its Primary Care Infrastructure Grants (PCIG) program, which is proving far superior to GP Super Clinics in building better primary care in local communities across Australia. Dr Hambleton said that a recent audit by the Australian National Audit Office provides clear evidence that the PCIG program is delivering important new practical resources faster and cheaper and more efficiently than the GP Super Clinics program.

19 July 2012 - Important for teenagers to build a trusting relationship with their family doctor - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that it is important for teenagers to establish a strong independent relationship with their family doctor. Dr Hambleton said that people in their teenage years are exposed to more health issues, challenges and risks, and it is the time when they must learn to take control of their own health management.

18 July 2012 - More than just a union: a history of the AMA - To help mark the 50 th anniversary of the Federal AMA, AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton today released a new publication, More Than Just A Union: A History of the AMA. Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra, Dr Hambleton said the publication traces the AMA's growth from fractious beginnings as an offshoot of a British parent to a truly Australian member organisation that was voted Best Lobby Group in the country in a 2006 survey of Federal politicians.

18 July 2012 - Still no signs of a commitment to GP leadership of Medicare Locals - The AMA still has serious concerns that Medicare Locals, as they continue their clumsy and confused metamorphosis from the remnants of the Divisions of General Practice, will be capable in their current intended form to deliver better primary health care to local communities than previous arrangements. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that, despite the best intentions and efforts of many people, Medicare Locals, if they disenfranchise GPs, would prove to be a flawed and costly health reform.

18 July 2012 - Family doctors have a central role in the health care of children - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today family doctors play a key coordinating role in managing the health of young children. Dr Hambleton said that it is important for young people to establish a trusting relationship with their family doctor from an early age.

17 July 2012 - Undercooked PCEHR still struggling for acceptance by medical profession - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that the recently partially implemented personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) is dogged by serious adverse claims around privacy, security and compatibility, which means it will be some time before it is taken up by patients or their doctors in large numbers. Dr Hambleton said the AMA supports the concept of a reliable shared electronic health record, but the PCEHR currently on offer is still not it.

17 July 2012 - Family doctors provide reassurance to parents with newborns - On Day Two of Family Doctor Week 2012, AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that family doctors play a vital role in assisting parents to manage the many challenges that a new baby brings. Dr Hambleton said that having a baby is one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences for parents, but it can also be a testing time for the health, patience and relationship of the parents.

16 July 2012 - AMA calls for boost to general practice teaching and training - The AMA today released a proposal calling on the Government to improve support for general practices, including doubling the incentive payment for teaching, to encourage them to conduct more teaching and training of the future general practice workforce. Currently only 13.6% of general practices, and fewer than 30% of PIP-accredited practices, are involved in teaching medical students.

12 July 2012 - Doctors still working unsafe shifts in public hospitals - There are still too many doctors working unsafe shifts in Australian public hospitals, according to an audit of hospital working conditions for doctors released today by the AMA. The AMA Safe Hours Audit 2011 shows that 53% of Australian hospital doctors are working unsafe hours – classified as high risk or significant risk – with reports of continuous unbroken shifts of up to 43 hours.

British Medical Association (BMA)

19 July 2012 - MPs call for focus on alcohol's hidden health dangers

19 July 2012 - BMA says revalidation language plans are unworkable

17 July 2012 - GMC trainee survey highlights safety concerns

17 July 2012 - BMA Q and A: how can doctors push for fair medical trade?

16 July 2012 - First among equals: profile of BMA council chair Mark Porter

12 July 2012 - Government urged to put health at heart of transport

12 July 2012 - Contract checking: the devil is in the detail

Canadian Medical Association (CMA)

16 July 2012 - CMA, MDs renew call for reinstatement of care for refugees

11 July 2012 - BMJ Best Practice now free for CMA members

9 July 2012 - CMA's move to expand CME offerings producing rapid results

6 July 2012 - CMA meeting moves north with full slate of issues

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