The Health News – 10 February 2017

• Public hospitals in Queensland have spent millions of dollars to buy 134 machines to keep up with the demand for health care services. However, the reports found there was a “lack of comprehensive planning” in purchasing these machines.

• A social media campaign has been launched to raise awareness in hospital violence experienced by health workers from their patients on a daily basis. Nurses call for a right to refuse treatment to aggressive patients.

• Six people may have been diagnosed with Ross River, a virus that causes painful swelling of the joints. Health Department authorities say this could be the first time the virus has been confirmed in Melbourne.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  10th of February 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

Queensland’s public hospitals have been wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money by not being cost efficient when it comes to buying high-end medical equipment, an auditor-general’s report has found.

The report looked at machines valued above $1 million like CT scanners and MRIs purchased by Queensland Health for more than $270 million in 2016.

There were 134 the state-of-the art machines bought to keep up with the demand for frontline services in 12 of the state’s 16 hospitals.

But the report found more often than not those in charge of signing the cheque book did not deliver value for money to meet clinical needs.

It found a linear accelerator used for radiation oncology, which cost $4 million to buy, cost more than double that to maintain over its 10-year lifetime.

And of 17 high-value equipment replacement purchases in 2014-2016, only one business case was produced.

“This makes it difficult to determine if HHS (Hospital and Health Services) have done proper due diligence before investing public funds,” the report said.

The auditor-general found in most cases the HHS did not have sufficient documentation to provide assurances that they:

  • Followed departmental and state procurement policies
  • Understood the full cost over the lifecycle of the asset
  • Considered alternative service delivery
  • Quantified the expected benefits

The report said there was a “lack of comprehensive planning” and the equipment was managed in “an uncoordinated way using a patchwork of various asset management systems and approaches”.

The report cited many cases where imaging machines were under-used or over-use across the state.

Shadow health spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the Government was to blame and said the situation was “systematic of deeper problems within Queensland Health”.

As South Australian nurses call for the right to refuse treatment to aggressive patients, the State Government has unveiled a new social media campaign aimed at curbing violence in hospital emergency departments.

The campaign comprises a 30-second video which dramatises the type of hostile encounter routinely experienced by hospital staff.

Health workers are dealing with violence on a daily basis, including being threatened with infected blood and having drink cans thrown at them, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

Government statistics show the number of code black incidents, where the safety of hospital staff is threatened, is rising.

So far in 2016–17 there have been 6,245 code blacks, compared to 4,765 at the same time in 2015–16.

That increase is partly due to rising levels of substance abuse, including the drug ice, Health Minister Jack Snelling said.

The campaign was welcomed by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, who said it was a good “first step” but that “real consequences” needed to be introduced for aggressive patients.

Chief executive Elizabeth Dabars said patients should be prosecuted for violent behaviour, and health professionals should have the right to refuse health care to abusive patients.

Six people in Melbourne have been diagnosed with Ross River virus, with heath authorities saying it could be the first time it has been detected in the city.

The cases have been detected around Frankston and Casey, in Melbourne’s south-east.

There has been a jump in the number of cases in northern Victoria this summer, but the Health Department said this could be the first time the virus has been confirmed in the metropolitan area.

More than 800 case were detected in the north of the state this year. The average is usually about 20.

The virus causes painful swelling of the joints — particularly hands and feet — fever, fatigue and sometimes a rash. Nausea, headaches, backaches and muscle aches are also common.

Symptoms usually come on between two and 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and disappear within six weeks.

But some people can have ongoing joint pains, depression and fatigue for many months.

Health Minister Jill Hennessey said flooding in northern parts of the state last year made for perfect conditions for the disease.


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