• In an email to the Medical Staff Association seen by the ABC, a senior clinician described the opening of 10 new beds in the Royal Hobart Hospital’s emergency department (ED) as being “out of touch with reality”. Another email, from an emergency department physician, said while staff were excited about the announcement of a further 22 medical beds at the nearby Hobart Repatriation Hospital, they could not work out what else was being offered.
• Christine Wigger from the Menzies School of Research has now visited more than 200 children who have the condition in remote areas of the NT, to trial treating the ear disease in a new way. The world-first clinical trial, in which two types of treatments are being simultaneously administered to see if they are more effective when combined, is being led by Professor Peter Morris, also from Menzies. It involves some subjects using a betadine ear wash and an oral antibiotic twice a day for 16 weeks, with the idea that the betadine would puncture the protective layer around the bacteria so the antibiotic can penetrate it.
• Professor Bernard Pearn-Rowe has been recognised with one of the AMA’s highest awards, the President’s Award. He has juggled maintaining his solo GP practice in Perth with his active roles in AMA WA medical politics, including a term as AMA WA President, and his appointment as Foundation Professor of Clinical Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
• James Cook University researchers in Cairns are harnessing the molecule produced by a Thai liver parasite that can “supercharge” the healing of wounds. Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine parasitologist Michael Smout said non-healing wounds were of particular concern for diabetics and smokers. But the scientists warn it could be at least a decade before the treatment is made available to humans.
• South Australia’s ICAC has launched a maladministration probe into the health department’s management of the Oakden mental health facility in Adelaide’s north-east. It follows a damning report released last month by the chief psychiatrist that revealed elderly dementia patients had suffered abuse and neglect in two wards and that the mistreatment went back years.
• Measures in the Hodgman Liberal Government’s fourth budget announced today include 215 nurses, 106 extra beds, 20 doctors, 115 allied and support staff, and the purchase of a second helicopter to cope with the increasing numbers of lost and injured tourists requiring rescue. The Government said it would boost the previous Labor administration’s spending on health by $658 million over four years.
• AMA Tasmania’s Chris Middleton said Time and again since the beginning of 2016 the RHH clinicians have raised highly credible warnings regarding an impending bed crisis. The Royal Hobart Hospital is able to discharge patients home but not to wards when admission is required because of the “bed block”, placing pressure on the system at the other end of the day. As recently as March, the average number of patients being treated in the emergency department at 5:00pm was 54, which represents 200 per cent capacity.
• Lara Gidding’s (Labor Member for Franklin) speech in the Tasmanian House of Assembly kicked off the debate over the Voluntary Assisted Dying bill co-sponsored by Ms Giddings and Greens leader Cassy O’Connor, which would allow people to voluntarily end their lives using a lethal drug. “The fact is that these patients are suffering intolerable pain that cannot be relieved, and their families are being left with the stressful memories of their loved one’s dying experience,” Ms Giddings said.
• Tasmania’s Health Minister Michael Ferguson said children who had seizures would be the first to be given the opportunity to access the scheme for medical cannabis. The Australian Medical Association’s Tasmanian president, Stuart Day, said he only supported medicinal cannabis that was prescribed through doctors.
• Australian Red Cross Blood Service spokeswoman Jessica Willet said cold and flu viruses typically forced about 1,000 donors across the country to cancel their donation appointments over winter months. Ms Willet said 8,000 O-type blood donations were needed across the country in order to keep supplies at a safe level.
• In Central Australia, Ngangkari are supported by the medical community and their contribution to the mental wellbeing of Aboriginal people has been officially recognised. Alison ‘Tjulapi’ Carol, also a Ngangkari, credited the NPY women’s council with leading the charge for the Ngangkari’s esteemed place in the medical community of Central Australia. Tjulapi explained that Ngangkari have an invaluable role to play in bridging the divide between traditional and Western models of healthcare.
• Health authorities have urged passengers on a flight from Indonesia to Melbourne earlier this month to seek urgent medical attention after an unvaccinated child was diagnosed with measles. The three-year-old was admitted to hospital after arriving at Melbourne Airport on Garuda airlines flight GA 716 from Jakarta at 9:20am on May 13.
• Belinda Downes was born with the rare facial difference condition bilateral oro-ocular cleft. She was recently featured on an episode of the ABC TV program You Can’t Ask That — a show aimed at breaking down stigma by showing the audience how people from diverse sections of the community respond to some of the tough questions they often attract.
• Health Minister Cameron Dick has announced a $20 million commission aimed at tackling the problem to reduce the growing number of overweight and obese families. The Healthy Futures Commission will provide grants and partner with community organisations to encourage Queenslanders to eat better and exercise more.
• In March, Facebook expanded its suicide prevention tools to Facebook Live, which gives Australian support groups the opportunity to target young people in the moment of their distress. It is new, and complex, ground for mental health advocates dealing with emerging platforms like Facebook Live according to SANE Australia — a national charity that helps those affected by mental illness. It is an ongoing debate as to whether Facebook is truly a platform that merely hosts the infrastructure that facilitates content — or a publisher of the content itself.
• Tasmanian Health Service (THS) headed by Dr. David Alcorn failed to deliver its vision of improving the health and well-being of Tasmanians, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Stuart Day.
• Parents involved in an Anti-vaccination group were warned regarding the consequences of a disease outbreak, which could be dangerous for their kids and the community.
• The AMA calls for marriage equality and to end divisive public debate over same-sex marriage.
• The Emergency Plus app was developed by the Triple Zero Awareness Working Group in 2013 and can be used anywhere in Australia It displays latitude and longitude coordinates derived from the smartphone’s GPS function and is therefore, not affected by poor mobile phone reception.
• A scathing report from an inquiry into the off-protocol prescribing of chemotherapy by oncologist Dr John Grygiel found: “Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospitals senior management put their public standing ahead of the best interests of their patients as the matter unfolded and quickly became a full-blown scandal.” The hospital has issued a statement denying the finding “in the strongest possible terms”, and referred to the findings of a previous inquiry.
• Complaints are mounting about the National Disability Insurance Scheme after it shifted from trial phase to full scheme mid-last year. Disability organisations have argued the planning process for participants is often rushed, leaving people without services and equipment they need. Many of these poor-quality plans, they said, were because crucial planning meetings had been held over the phone and not in person.
• The ABC obtained a leaked copy of the committee’s report into low doses of chemotherapy given to dozens of head and neck cancer patients by oncologist John Grygiel, who treated patients at St Vincent’s and at cancer clinics in the state’s central west. It finds “the committee is not able to discount the possibility of a cover-up on the part of St Vincent’s Hospital”.
• Ambulance Tasmania paramedic Lauren Hepher is also the president of the Ambulance Employees Sub-branch of the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU). She is concerned about the workload for Tasmanian paramedics, which she said was affecting health and morale of staff.
• Patient Mr Specis’ PET scan of his brain helped Prince of Wales Hospital researchers, who said Mr Specis was among the subjects who helped them make a significant breakthrough in identifying a leading cause of delirium. Using PET Scans, researchers found changes in part of the brain governing memory, and executive function. Researchers found when the brain was unable to metabolise glucose efficiently, brain function deteriorated, causing delirium.
• The risk of heart attack rises 17-fold when people have respiratory infections, Sydney University researchers have found. An analysis of almost 600 heart attacks has confirmed that colds and flus can trigger life-threatening blockages of the coronary arteries, with the peril peaking during the first seven days of infection.
• Five Australian Red Cross aid workers have received the Florence Nightingale Medal, awarded for exceptional courage and devotion to the sick, wounded or disabled in conflict and disaster zones. One of recipients, Brisbane-based nurse Ruth Jebb, has worked to desperately try to save dying children in some of the world’s worst conditions including coordinating a feeding clinic for thousands of malnourished children in Sudan.
• Staffing levels at the RAH were questioned by the state Opposition over the weekend after it was revealed the hospital’s only two specialist stroke surgeons were on holidays at the same time. South Australia’s Opposition said the issue was just the latest example of SA Health’s “lack of accountability”.
• Disability groups want to increase the levy by 0.5 percentage points from 2019 to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which has reignited a debate about whether or not Labor left a multi-billion funding black hole. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has supported the Medicare levy, but only for the top 20 per cent of wage earners with a taxable income higher than $87,001.
• Personal stories of drug addiction and efforts to recover are being shared in regular group therapy sessions of the Matrix Model, an ice addiction treatment program which is on trial in Adelaide. Clinical psychologist Phillip Townshend said the program was considered a gold standard in addiction treatment.
• Frozen veg aren’t necessarily inferior, says Melanie McGrice, a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia. One recent British study found antioxidant levels in frozen produce can actually be higher than in fresh fruit and vegetables. “This was “quite surprising”, because people have always thought antioxidant levels would be higher in fresh vegies,” Ms McGrice said.