The Health News Australia December 14 2017

  • A “toxic and dysfunctional culture” amongst senior public servants running Tasmania’s health service is affecting patient care, an inquiry has heard. Doctors have given evidence at the Launceston hearings of an inquiry into Tasmania’s acute health services. Nursing director of Women and Child Services at the LGH Janette Tonks told the inquiry there was a lack of crisis accommodation while AMA Tasmania president Stuart Day told the inquiry the AMA was receiving increasing reports of dysfunction.
  • Health experts from the University of Sydney are calling for a new safety body to be set up to monitor the use of nanomaterials. Health experts are calling for a safety standards body to be set up to monitor the use of minuscule particles added to many foods, sunscreens and cosmetics, amid concern some may damage people’s health.
  • The American Psychiatric Association estimates that there are currently more than 10,000 depression and anxiety-related self-help apps available to download. But less than 1% have been professionally evaluated. Online tools designed to help alleviate or prevent mental illness take many forms. Some work to give people a better understanding of the physical warning signs for anxiety, like an increased heart or breathing rate, for example. Others are used to help a person moderate or change their behaviour.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 14th of December 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-12/toxic-culture-affecting-patient-care-in-tasmania-inquiry-hears/9250762

A “toxic and dysfunctional culture” amongst senior public servants running Tasmania’s health service is affecting patient care, an inquiry has heard. Doctors have given evidence at the Launceston hearings of an inquiry into Tasmania’s acute health services. Australian Medical Association Tasmania president Stuart Day told the inquiry the culture of the Tasmanian Health Service executive was “toxic and dysfunctional”. He said:  “It is top heavy and urgently needs to be cut back to size.”
….
Doctor Day told the inquiry the AMA was receiving increasing reports of dysfunction. He added:  

“The size of the THS executive probably needs to be shrunk to a much fewer people, put that money back into decent people running on the ground.” Health Minister Michael Ferguson told the inquiry he had a “fantastic relationship” with the AMA, but he failed to directly address the organisation’s concerns about a toxic culture. Mister Ferguson has promised to release a long-awaited report into senior management and the rollout of beds.
….
Nursing director of Women and Child Services at the Launceston General Hospital (LGH) Janette Tonks told the inquiry there was a lack of crisis accommodation. She said:  “In the last six months we’ve had three adolescents that have been housed with us because there isn’t any other crisis accommodation for them and it’s been the safest place.”
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Miss Tonks said she wanted to see more funding for phase two of the paediatric mental health ward, which included seven beds.

https://healthtimes.com.au/hub/public-health/50/news/aap/health-experts-call-for-nanosafety-body/3079/

Health experts from the University of Sydney are calling for a new safety body to be set up to monitor the use of nanomaterials. Health experts are calling for a safety standards body to be set up to monitor the use of minuscule particles added to many foods, sunscreens and cosmetics, amid concern some may damage people’s health.

Academics from the University of Sydney say while some nanomaterials such as colloidal silver and titanium dioxide are restricted in parts of Europe, they remain freely available in Australia.
They want a government-funded national standards body established to investigate nanomaterials and devise specific tests to examine how they affect human body cells, the immune system, and gut bacteria.
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Nanomaterials are one thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, with some occurring naturally in foods, while others are synthetic. Scientists have benefited from using nanotechnology to enhance the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to fight cancer cells, and help sunscreen protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. But some research has raised concerns about the possible side effects of certain nanomaterials added to things like tattoo ink, cosmetics, and the shiny coatings on tablets and lollies. Questions have been raised in particular about titanium dioxide and its effects on the immune system. Food Standards Australia New Zealand requires any new foods made using nanotechnology that may pose potential safety concerns to undergo scientific tests before it can be supplied.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-06/depression-mental-health-apps-how-to-tell-the-good-from-the-bad/9228178

The American Psychiatric Association estimates that there are currently more than ten thousand depression and anxiety-related self-help apps available to download. But less than one percent have been professionally evaluated.
….
Doctor John Torous from Harvard Medical School predicts that  mental health apps will eventually play an important role to conventional face-to-face therapy, with particular benefits for those living in remote areas. Helen Christensen, the director of the Black Dog Institute at the University of New South Wales says there is a growing body of research indicating that well-designed apps are as effective as face-to-face therapies. Online tools designed to help alleviate or prevent mental illness take many forms. Some work to give people a better understanding of the physical warning signs for anxiety, like an increased heart or breathing rate, for example. Others are used to help a person moderate or change their behaviour. Professor Christensen and her researchers have been developing and evaluating various online applications, including apps that employ what psychologists call Cognitive Behaviour Therapy — also known as the Talking Therapy.

The American Psychiatric Association doesn’t recommend specific applications, but it has developed a four-level evaluation framework: Step one – Risk/privacy and security;
Step two- Evidence; Step three – Ease of use; Step four: Interoperability (which refers to the ability to share the data generated by the app with a trusted medical professional).
Professor Christensen believes there’s currently a disconnect between consumers and researchers. Many of the most popular apps, she says, are yet to be properly assessed, while those that have been evaluated tend not to have broad appeal. The Black Dog’s myCompass app, for example, is now being used by suburban doctors as a first step screening initiative when patients arrive at their local clinic for a regular consultation.

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