The Health News – 25 July 2016

Overview:
• Data obtained by Tasmanian Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff shows locum costs were highest in the north west, where expenses for short-term staff totalled $12.2 million. Health Minister Michael Ferguson has released a statement, insisting systemic problems in the hospital network were being methodically addressed.

• In an Australian first, Queensland doctors have performed spinal surgery on a baby diagnosed with spina bifida while it was still in its mother’s womb at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital with the help of a specialist team from the United States of America.

• Georgia Lowry, now 22, had her cells donated when she was a sick baby, and two decades later those cells have been used by scientists to find a potential new drug treatment for babies with leukaemia.  Ms Lowry beat the odds, that is why Dr Mark Cruickshank from the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth is working to hopefully find a new cure.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  25th of July 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/tasmania-spends-16-million-dollars-on-fifo-doctors/7653628

Tasmanian taxpayers spent more than $16 million on fly-in doctors in the 12 months to March, according to figures released under state Right to Information laws.

Data obtained by Tasmanian Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff shows locum costs were highest in the north west, where expenses for short-term staff totalled $12.2 million.

In southern Tasmania, locums cost taxpayers $1.3 million, while the total cost was $3 million in northern Tasmania.

Ms Woodruff, who applied for the data in May, said the figures showed the health system was not being efficiently run.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson has released a statement, insisting systemic problems in the hospital network were being methodically addressed.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-24/brisbane-doctors-perform-spinda-bifida-surgery-on-fetus/7656262

In an Australian first, Queensland doctors have performed spinal surgery on a baby diagnosed with spina bifida while it was still in its mother’s womb.

The risky operation was carried out on Saturday at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital with the help of a specialist team from the United States of America.

A team of 40 doctors and nurses performed the life-changing surgery on a 24-week-old in-utero baby.

Spina bifida affects one in 2,000 pregnancies in Australia – a condition where the lower part of the spinal cord is exposed.

Until now Australian patients were treated after birth or had to travel overseas for in utero surgery.

But … doctors at Brisbane’s Mater hospital successfully performed a procedure pioneered at America’s Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-23/potential-new-baby-leukaemia-treatment/7654290

A young Western Australian woman has given an incredible gift to researchers who may have found a new treatment for babies with leukaemia.

Georgia Lowry, now 22, had her cells donated when she was a sick baby, and two decades later those cells have been used by scientists to find a potential new drug treatment.

“When I was first diagnosed, they collected the cells,” she said.

“They just wanted to find the owners of the cells, it was a miracle to [the researchers] that I’ve survived.”

Ms Lowry’s parents were told she had a 2 per cent chance of surviving leukaemia when she got the cancer as a newborn baby and again when she was two years old.

She said she received bone marrow transplants from her sister.

“You hear things about survival rates and usually it’s about 50 per cent or whatever and then for someone to say 2 per cent, I can’t imagine what Mum and Dad went through when they heard that,” she said.

Ms Lowry beat the odds, but many babies do not survive this aggressive type of leukaemia.

That is why Dr Mark Cruickshank from the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth is working to hopefully find a new cure.

Dr Cruickshank’s team used cells from Ms Lowry and other donors to replicate leukaemia in the lab, and by doing that were able to trial new drug combinations.

Dr Cruickshank said it was “exciting” one drug in particular enhanced the effect of an important drug that is commonly used to treat childhood leukaemia.

It also appeared less toxic than the current drugs given to babies, which meant chemotherapy doses could potentially be reduced in combination with the new drugs, the researchers said.

The team now want the new drug combination to go through clinical trials, and the research has been published in international journal Leukaemia.

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