The Health News – 21 April 2016

Overview:
• Some of Australia’s leading scientists say the CSIRO is at risk of losing millions of dollars in international grants due to changes being implemented under CEO Larry Marshall.

• Cancer diagnosis and exhausting chemotherapy treatments were not enough to cope with, Jane Charuba had to drive more than four hours to receive treatment. So when she was offered the opportunity to try tele-health-delivered chemotherapy in her home town of Hughenden in outback north-west Queensland, she didn’t hesitate. 

• More offenders than average in far west New South Wales are successfully completing a drug and alcohol diversion program run through the courts. Most local courts across NSW can send defendants to the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program, known as “MERIT”.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  21st of April 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-20/csiro-changes-risk-losing-millions-in-grants-scientists-say/7343750

Some of Australia’s leading scientists say the CSIRO is at risk of losing millions of dollars in international grants due to changes being implemented under CEO Larry Marshall.

Lateline has obtained unofficial minutes of a CSIRO staff meeting last month, where one researcher directly raised the United Nations Development Program’s concerns about funding the organisation in future.

“The UN told him that in their view, the new CEO was not reliable,” retired CSIRO fellow Dr Nick Abel said.

“And they were frightened that if they did hand over a lot of money to CSIRO under contract, there was a danger that he might cancel those contracts and leave them with the ultimate embarrassment for the UN, which is millions of dollars of unspent money.”

Billions of dollars worth of grants were pledged for climate research and mitigation at the Paris climate talks last year.

Lateline has spoken to a number of scientists who fear the CSIRO’s new innovation and industry focus is leading to a “dramatic reduction” in “public good” science.

The change is being driven by Mr Marshall, who was appointed under Tony Abbott after spending 25 years as an entrepreneur in the United States.

Mr Marshall’s vision for the organisation is focused on getting financial returns for the funding it receives.

Research manager Dr Peter Craig retired from the CSIRO just over two weeks ago.

He believes as well as the loss of reputation and capacity, Australia is also at risk of breaching commitments made at last year’s climate talks in Paris.

Dr Craig is no longer gagged by any employment agreement.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-20/tele-health-chemotherapy-saving-lives-and-money/7341724

As if a cancer diagnosis and exhausting chemotherapy treatments were not enough to cope with, Jane Charuba had to drive more than four hours to receive treatment.

So when she was offered the opportunity to try tele-health-delivered chemotherapy in her home town of Hughenden in outback north-west Queensland, she didn’t hesitate.

“It is a four-hour drive (to Townsville hospital), a huge day of treatment which leaves you feeling awful,” Ms Charuba said.

“I can’t tell you how big a relief it was to get my treatment in Hughenden knowing that I could go straight home to my husband and my own bed,” she said.

Ms Charuba was training for the Masters Swimming Australia National Championships when she was diagnosed with stage 1A ovarian cancer.

She had lost both her mother and sister to cancer but said it was a relief to be able to receive treatment in her home town.

Tele-health chemotherapy is delivered at the Hughenden Hospital by rural generalist nurses overseen by specialist nurses via video link from Townsville Hospital.

Townsville Hospital and health service director of medical oncology, Professor Sabe Sabesan, said their tele-health model enabled rural nurses to administer treatment without having to undergo lengthy specialist training.

Queensland Health has already adopted the Townsville Hospital model as the standard for remote chemotherapy provision.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-20/high-rate-of-offenders-completing-merit-program-far-west/7340684

More offenders than average in far west New South Wales are successfully completing a drug and alcohol diversion program run through the courts.

Most local courts across NSW can send defendants to the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program, known as MERIT.

MERIT sees clinicians provide one-on-one drug and alcohol abuse counselling to defendants while they are on bail, which the magistrate can then take into account in sentencing.

The co-ordinator of the MERIT program in Broken Hill and Wilcannia, Peter Clottu, said 80 per cent of offenders referred to the program successfully complete[d] it, compared to the state average of just 65 per cent.

Mr Clottu said the success of the program in the far west may be because it also included counselling for alcohol abuse.

MERIT has been running in Broken Hill for more than a decade, and deals with around 30 people in a three-month period, compared to around 12 a year ago, made possible because of an additional clinician.

Offenders can be referred to MERIT by the court, police or they can elect to refer themselves, and completion of the program can be made a bail condition.

“We’re getting an increase in self-referrals and that’s word of mouth, family members, people coming in off the street,” Mr Clottu said.