The Health News – 10 May 2016

Overview:
• The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has used the first day of the election campaign to ask its 30,000 member GPs to put up posters in waiting rooms and speak to patients about the Government’s freeze on Medicare rebates.

• Patients will not be charged for medication from Tasmanian hospital pharmacies from today as allied health workers escalate industrial action. The workers are angry they do not have their own representative on the newly established seven-member executive team appointed by new Tasmanian Health Service (THS) CEO David Alcorn.

• At the age of 36, Danielle Tindle has been given an ultimatum — your money or your life. A decade after surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Dr Tindle is critically ill with another rare cancer. But this time, she is being forced to pay thousands of dollars for potentially life-saving drugs which are available at minimal cost to other patients under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  10th of May 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-09/gps-lobby-election-candidatesto-unfreeze-medicare-rebates/7397030

Doctors’ waiting rooms look set to become election battlefields, with GPs launching a campaign around the country to unfreeze Medicare rebates.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has used the first day of the election campaign to ask its 30,000 member GPs to put up posters in waiting rooms and speak to patients about the Government’s freeze on Medicare rebates.

During the campaign people will be asked to use the social media hashtag #youvebeentargeted and write letters to local candidates.

When the Abbott government scrapped the Medicare co-payment in 2014 it instead enacted a four-year freeze on the indexation of the Medicare rebate paid to general practitioners.

It means the amount paid to doctors from Medicare has not been increasing with inflation each year.

The Turnbull Government announced in the 2016 budget the indexation freeze would be extended until at least 2020.

It said the measure would save $925 million, and overall health spending had increased 4 per cent.

However GPs said their practices had been largely absorbing the cost of the indexation freeze, and if the freeze continued services would be affected.

Changes would include charging a larger gap to fee-paying patients, choosing to bulk bill fewer patients or asking patients to return for further appointments for follow- ups, they warned.

Royal Australian College of GPs vice-president Morton Rawlin said doctors expected their campaign to have an impact in marginal seats.

He said the freeze was a false economy because it was cheaper to see a GP than end up in hospital.

Despite the freeze on the rebate, bulk billing rates have continued to grow and are at a high of 84 per cent.

Labor has said it is concerned by the ongoing freeze of the Medicare rebate, and says it will announce its policy on primary care later in the campaign.

The campaign comes on the back of similar lobbying by pathologists, who objected to the Government’s decision to scrap a bulk-billing incentive payment introduced by Labor.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-09/no-charge-for-medicines-as-allied-health-workers-escalate-action/7396270

Patients will not be charged for medication from Tasmanian hospital pharmacies from today as allied health workers escalate industrial action.

The workers are angry they do not have their own representative on the newly established seven-member executive team appointed by new Tasmanian Health Service (THS) CEO David Alcorn.

Instead, one position has been created combining responsibility for nursing, midwifery and allied health.

Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) secretary Tim Jacobson said Health Minister Michael Ferguson and Mr Alcorn had been almost silent in response to their concerns since industrial action started two weeks ago.

“The bans now are escalated to capture a number of revenue-raising activities,” he said.

“For example, people that use the hospital pharmacies won’t be – where members are participating in industrial action – paying for their prescriptions which is normally the case.”

Workers including radiologists, speech pathologists and physiotherapists will also stop collecting statistical data or doing paperwork relating to accreditation.

Mr Jacobson said relegating allied health from the decision-making table was a blow to morale and ignored their role in keeping people out of hospital.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-09/rare-cancer-patient-dealt-‘unfair’-drug-costs/7391874

At the age of 36, Danielle Tindle has been given an ultimatum — your money or your life.

A decade after surviving Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Dr Tindle is critically ill with another rare cancer.

But this time, she is being forced to pay thousands of dollars for potentially life-saving drugs which are available at minimal cost to other patients under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

When Dr Tindle gets her immunotherapy for cancer every two weeks, it costs her nearly $5,000 a shot.

In the private hospital cubicle next to her could be a melanoma patient who is paying just $6.20 per treatment.

The discrepancy is due to drug listing requirements for the PBS.

“[The melanoma patient] is receiving it at a PBS subsidised rate, while I’m paying thousands of dollars,” Dr Tindle told Australian Story.

“There’s no-one that could look me in the eye, from any level of government, or even the drug companies, and say that’s a fair situation. Something needs to change.”

Rare Cancers Australia chief executive Richard Vines said: “There’s a lot of people out there who are very surprised when they get diagnosed with a rare cancer, that what they thought was a good, safe health system which provided drugs for people, just doesn’t.

“Nobody thinks it’s fair. It’s so frustrating.

“The [drugs] are sitting on the shelf, the Government’s OK’d them for one type of cancer, and not for the other.”

Australian Story featured Dr Tindle in 2005, after she survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Ultimately her life was saved by her father’s own groundbreaking stem-cell research.

Since then, she has advocated for improved services and care for other young cancer patients, and become a world leader in the field.

Midway through her PhD, entitled Creating Meaning: The cancer survivorship experiences of young adults in Australia, England and the United States, Dr Tindle was told she had cancer again.

All conventional therapies have failed in Dr Tindle’s case.