The Health News – 17 March 2017

Overview:
• New South Wales doctors have warned that some hospitals were struggling to cope with the increasing numbers of patients who visit the emergency departments. This could be due to population growth, ageing population, and increase in many types of chronic diseases. .

• On National Close the Gap Day 2017, AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said that there is no doubt that our political leaders are committed to improving Indigenous health, but progress is slow under the current strategy.

• A device which sends tiny electric shocks to the brain to stimulate neurons could one day be at least as useful to people with anxiety and depression as antidepressants, Curtin University researchers hope.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  17th of March 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-15/nsw-hospitals-under-pressure-after-spike-in-emergency-visits/8354382

New South Wales doctors have warned hospitals are coming under increasing pressure as record numbers of patients pour into the state’s emergency departments.

The latest Hospital Quarterly report from the Bureau of Health Information shows a 3 per cent increase in the number of patients visiting emergency departments between October and December last year, as compared to the same period in 2015.

The total number of people going to an emergency department in NSW in the quarter was 684,000, up by 19,817 on the previous year.

“Population growth obviously can contribute to this, the ageing population and the increase in many types of chronic diseases but also potentially the availability of primary care at the local level,” the bureau’s chief executive Jean-Frederic Levesque said.

Dr Levesque said it was encouraging that many of the report’s performance measures remained steady despite the increase in patient numbers.

It showed 92 per cent of patients had their care transferred from ambulance to hospital staff within 30 minutes, an increase of 1.5 per cent on the previous year.

However, it also revealed only 66.4 per cent of patients classified as “triage category two” — with problems such as chest pains and severe burns — had their treatment started within the recommended timeframe of 10 minutes.

That represents a decrease of 0.5 per cent on the previous year.

The president of the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Professor Brad Frankum, said staff in some hospitals were struggling to cope.

https://ama.com.au/media/greater-genuine-cooperation-needed-significantly-close-gap

AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, said …that genuine cooperation between all political parties and across all levels of government is needed if Australia is to achieve significant improvements in closing the gap in life expectancy and health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

[On Thursday 16th March] On National Close the Gap Day 2017, Dr Gannon said that there is no doubt that our political leaders are committed to improving Indigenous health, but progress is slow and too few targets are being met under the current strategy.

“The AMA recognises the importance of self-determination, and fully supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in wanting to take charge of their own lives.

Dr Gannon said that the Redfern Statement provides the current Federal Parliament with an unprecedented opportunity to work closely with Indigenous people to meaningfully address the disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience.

The 2016 AMA Indigenous Health Report Card is available at https://ama.com.au/article/2016-ama-report-card-indigenous-health-call-action-prevent-new-cases-rheumatic-heart-disease

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-14/depression-treated-with-electric-shocks-to-brain-by-researchers/8353550

A device which sends tiny electric shocks to the brain to stimulate neurons could one day be at least as useful to people with anxiety and depression as antidepressants, Curtin University researchers hope.

The university’s Patrick Clarke said small electrical currents were being used to directly stimulate underperforming parts of the depressive brain and numb overstimulated areas.

“We know that parts of the brain are less active so we’ve increased activity in this area to see if that has a benefit, and lo and behold it’s having a clear benefit,” Dr Clarke said.

“The results with depression seem to be pretty comparable to antidepressants, which is really encouraging that you can get a non-drug based treatment [after several sessions] as opposed to drugs which often carry a bunch of nasty side effects.

“It’s just one more tool in the treatment ‘arsenal’ to help people, which is really fantastic.”

Dr Clarke said the research applied decades of research which used brain imaging techniques to pinpoint specific areas of the brain.

He said the research was in its early stages, but some mental health specialists in Australia were already offering the treatment in conjunction with face-to-face counselling.

 

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