The Health News – 6 December 2016

Overview:
• Palliative care doctors are warning the Victorian Government not to legalize euthanasia. Professor Peter Hudson from St Vincent’s Health said the new system would provide better quality care for assisted suicide than for people who request palliative care.

• The Productivity Commission said in a report that public hospital patients overseas had more user choice over their care, which leads to improved service quality and efficiency as patients can plan services in advance and access useful information.

• Water pipes in the Perth Children’s Hospital will again be flushed this time with iced water in an urgent attempt to rid them of the lead contamination which tests indicated the contamination was confined to the new hospital building.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  6th of December 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-05/doctors-warn-against-euthanasia-move/8091718

Palliative care doctors are warning the Victorian Government not to legalise euthanasia in its current state, arguing that it prioritises patients who choose assisted suicide at the expense of those receiving end-of-life care.

The Government is considering assisted suicide but doctors say expanded palliative care would deliver better results.

Professor Peter Hudson from St Vincent’s Health said the evidence behind euthanasia was nowhere near strong enough.

“We’re talking about potentially a major shift in a major new public health intervention,” he said.

“There needs to be a suitable evidence base behind it, all the side effects of the proposed intervention need to be assessed, and there needs to be a review of this over time in terms of the resources required to implement it.

“And we don’t believe that the proposed model has been through that level of scrutiny.”

In June, a Victorian parliamentary committee delivered a groundbreaking report which recommended that the State Government allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs.

Professor Hudson said the new system would provide better quality care for assisted suicide than for people who request palliative care.

“If this legislation gets through, the proposal is that if somebody requests assisted suicide, they’d be able to access support from two doctors, potentially see a psychiatrist, and also be allocated a case worker, and I think that’s really good and really important that those supports are in place,” he said.

“However as it currently stands, if somebody has a terminal illness in Australia at the moment, their chances of getting all those supports are very limited.

Professor Hudson said access to high-quality palliative care in Australia was “a lottery” but he said when it was done well, international evidence suggested it brought better outcomes than euthanasia.

Parliamentary standing orders require the Government to respond to the committee by this Friday.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-05/productivity-commission-explores-changes-to-government-services/8091792

Public hospital patients could benefit from doctors and health services publicly reporting their performance, the Productivity Commission says in a report exploring radical changes to government services.

The commission also said injecting greater competition into six services, including social housing, dental care and remote Indigenous services, could benefit the public.

The report said public hospital patients overseas had more choice over their care.

“Overseas experience shows that user choice can lead to improved service quality and efficiency when patients are able to plan services in advance and access useful information,” the report said.

“In Australia, this would require more user-oriented information on the clinical outcomes achieved by individual hospitals and doctors.”

Commissioner Dr Stephen King said in the UK, patients were making better choices and seeing better health outcomes as a result.

“In the UK there’s a requirement that the GP discusses specialists with you and that gives you a number of choices,” he said.

Dr King said social housing was another area where Europe provided many good examples Australia could examine.

Treasurer Scott Morrison earlier this year tasked the commission with examining whether human services could benefit from more private involvement.

The report marks the end of the first stage of the commission’s investigation.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-05/perth-childrens-hospital-lead-contaminated-pipes-to-be-flushed/8093094

Water pipes in the Perth Children’s Hospital will again be flushed, this time with iced water, in an urgent attempt to rid them of the lead contamination which is preventing the completion of construction.

The handover of the new $1.2 billion hospital has been delayed indefinitely while contractor John Holland tries to find and eliminate the source of elevated lead levels in the hospital’s water system.

Treasurer Mike Nahan has been briefed by his department on the project and believes the contamination can be cleared by flushing the pipes.

Tests indicated the contamination was confined to the new hospital building and not an issue at the adjacent Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

The urgency to resolve the problem has intensified since John Holland failed to meet its last scheduled date for the completion and handover of the hospital building on November 30.

The Government had earlier pledged to open the hospital by the end of the year, but with the last missed completion date, conceded there were doubts whether it would be operating by the state election on March 11.

Last week, Health Minister John Day acknowledged the possibility that lead-contaminated piping might have to be replaced if flushing did not clear the system.

But based on the latest advice, Dr Nahan said he does not believe that would be necessary.

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