The Health News – 20 June 2016

Overview:
• Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned plans to outsource the Medicare payments system, declaring “every element” of Medicare would remain in Government hands. Labor seized on the idea, claiming it was evidence the Coalition was planning to sell off Medicare.

• Studies on mice have revealed that the presence of excessive stress hormones in a male parent prior to conception can cause the following two generations to be moody and depressed. Professor Anthony Hannan, who led the research team, from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, said that they focused on fathers because researchers have known for awhile that the mother’s experiences and lifestyles have a big impact on their offspring.

• Fears for nurse safety and their professional well-being at Launceston General Hospital have prompted the union to demand an urgent intervention by Health Minister Michael Ferguson. The union claims an increased reliance on locums and general understaffing had pushed the workforce to the brink, prompting a raft of senior resignations.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  20th of June 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-18/medicare-will-never-be-privatised,-turnbull-says/7523242

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned plans to outsource the Medicare payments system, declaring “every element” of Medicare would remain in Government hands.

Since 2014, the Government has been considering privatising a swath of Government payments, including Medicare, as a way of modernising the system and saving money.

Labor seized on the idea, claiming it was evidence the Coalition was planning to sell off Medicare, and recently recruited former prime minister Bob Hawke to appear in a TV advertising campaign warning against privatisation.

The plan to outsource the system, which deals with $50 billion in payments each year, was reportedly well advanced with several companies putting their hands up to take it over.

On Friday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the payments system was “the heart of the Medicare system” and handing it to the private sector would compromise the healthcare system.

In the ad campaign, Mr Hawke, who delivered Medicare, told viewers: “You don’t set up a Medicare privatisation taskforce unless you aim to privatise Medicare.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-17/stressed-sperm-can-affect-offspring-study-says/7520842

Stressed-out men can pass on anxiety and depression to their children and grandchildren via their sperm, Australian researchers say.

Studies on mice have revealed that the presence of excessive stress hormones in a male parent prior to conception can cause the following two generations to be moody and depressed.

According to the team from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, men hoping to father happy and well-adjusted offspring are advised to keep calm and carry on.

Professor Anthony Hannan, who led the research team, said they gave male mice increased stress hormones in their drinking water and then compared them with control male mice who had not received the stress hormones.

“And then we mated those mice with female mice and then we studied the offspring of those mice and what we found were behavioural changes relevant to depression anxiety disorders in the offspring of the male mice with increased stress hormone,” he said.

Professor Hannan said by feeding the mice the stressed hormones, the mice have a single stress hormone molecule circulating in their blood system, giving the researchers a specific way of understanding the mechanism.

Professor Hannan said measuring anxiety levels in mice was carried out by putting them into a maze where the mice have to choose between being in the dark side or the light side.

“They’re nocturnal so they actually prefer the dark side, and so a more anxious mouse will spend most of its time in the dark chamber.

“Or you can put them in another chamber where they can go out on an open ledge or they can stay in the more protected part of the maze, and again that’s just another test of anxiety and in both these tests, the offspring showed a disposition to be more anxious in those tests.”

Professor Hannan said that they focused on fathers because researchers have known for awhile that the mother’s experiences and lifestyles have a big impact on their offspring.

Professor Hannan said as part of the study they examined the second generation, which they called the F2 generation in mice.

“And we did find changes in that generation and really that has even greater public health implications if you’re talking about effects that might carry across not just one generation but multiple generations,” he said.

The research has been published in the journal “Translational Psychiatry”.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-18/launceston-general-hospital-safety-intervention-nurse’s-union/7522574

Fears for nurse safety and their professional well-being at Launceston General Hospital have prompted the union to demand an urgent intervention by Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

The union claims an increased reliance on locums and general understaffing had pushed the workforce to the brink, prompting a raft of senior resignations.

After an emergency meeting on Friday the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Midwifery and Nursing Federation put 15 demands to the Minister.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Tasmanian secretary Neroli Ellis said the nurses unanimously supported the union’s call for an urgent intervention.

“Nurses are working under incredible pressures with locums covering shifts,” she said.

“This is obviously the tip of the iceberg … and what tipped the nurses over the edge [was] the loss of their senior medical colleagues.”

Ms Ellis said many of the problems stemmed from a backlog of patients in Emergency Departments.

“Around 25 patients are waiting each morning in ED to be admitted to beds and the ED is constantly filled to capacity,” she said.

“The main issue is budget cuts and the inadequate number of acute beds to admit patients to meet current demand.”

Health Minister Michael Ferguson would not be drawn on the specific demands and blamed slow workforce turn-over.

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