The Health News Australia January 19 2018

  • The trend of food served on wooden boards can divide opinion across the table.  Recently a restaurant in Birmingham, England, was heavily fined after ignoring advice from health inspectors regarding the cleanliness of their serving boards. Gary Kennedy, a food and safety auditor who has managed a food consultancy business in Sydney for 15 years said: “There’s a perception of some people that wood is illegal in a food business, well that’s just not true.”
  • Hundreds of Australians in a support program for severe mental health issues are falling through the cracks of the national disability insurance scheme, renewing fears that the landmark reform is leaving gaps in psychosocial services. The federal government is preparing to slowly cut its funding to a widely used support and recovery service for people severely impacted by mental illness, known as the personal helpers and mentors (Phams) program.
  • Financially strained families will be hit with a health premium rise double the rate of inflation, despite insurers brokering the lowest hike in 15 years. The April 1 increase will add around $200 a year to a family’s health insurance bills. However, the hike could have been far greater had health funds not benefited from cuts to the cost of medical devices like hip and knee replacements and a reduction in the number of payouts.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 19th of January 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-18/eating-food-served-wooden-boards-health-safety/9336302

The trend of food served on wooden boards can divide opinion across the table.  Recently a restaurant in Birmingham, England, was heavily fined after ignoring advice from health inspectors regarding the cleanliness of their serving boards. An Acocks Green restaurant that kept using wooden plates to serve food on has been fined fifty thousand pounds by Bham Magistrates court after a case brought by the city council.
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Gary Kennedy, a food and safety auditor who has managed a food consultancy business in Sydney for fifteen years said: “There’s a perception of some people that wood is illegal in a food  business, well that’s just not true.” While Mr Kennedy said there were no specific New South Wales laws regarding the use of wood in food service, he said it came under the same scrutiny like any other used in the industry.

He added: “Things like coffee stirrers, toothpicks, bamboo steamers — they all legally have to be showing that nothing comes out of the wood that contaminates.” Pesticide residues, wood treatments and varnishes, all of that still has to be food-grade and if it does in any way get out and get into the food, it’s got to be shown to meet the legal limits in the food standards code.”
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He emphasizes the importance of avoiding cross-contamination and advised using separate boards for preparation, especially when handling raw meat, and using others solely for serving cooked food. As for cleaning your wooden boards at home, Mr Kennedy gave some simple tips such as putting it through hot water, like a dishwasher, kills all the bugs and most of the commercial sanitisers that you use in a dishwasher. Also air drying is the best way to dry it as opposed to drying with a tea towel as they pose their own problems.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/17/almost-75-of-people-on-mental-health-programs-left-without-ndis-support

Hundreds of Australians in a support program for severe mental health issues are falling through the cracks of the national disability insurance scheme, renewing fears that the landmark reform is leaving gaps in psychosocial services. The federal government is preparing to slowly cut its funding to a widely used support and recovery service for people severely impacted by mental illness, known as the personal helpers and mentors program or Phams.

The funding is being withdrawn on the assumption that those now in the program will be eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and can use that money to pay for Phams or a similar support. But early data shows that is not occurring. Eight hundred of the program’s participants were expected to move to the NDIS last financial year. Almost three-quarters, or about five hundred eighty six, did not end up with NDIS funding, according to a newly published Senate estimates response from the Department of Social Services.

About two hundred thirty one were deemed ineligible for the scheme, owing to their age, residency, or because they did not meet disability requirements. A further one hundred fifty eight Phams clients withdrew their access requests, while one hundred sixty one declined to move to the NDIS, and thirty five had not returned their access request form.
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At last count, there were about twenty thousand three hundred thirty seven participants in the program who would need to be moved to NDIS funding by two thousand nineteen and two thousand twenty .

The national disability insurance agency has released details of a tailored pathway to access the NDIS for people with a psychosocial disability. The pathway is expected to help address issues accessing the scheme.

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-fund-premiums-to-rise-by-twice-the-inflation-rate-again/news-story/82972ed80e2da095a34a084cac31d432

Financially strained families will be hit with a health premium rise double the rate of inflation, despite insurers brokering the lowest hike in fifteen years. The April one increase will add around two hundred dollars a year to a family’s health insurance bills. However, the hike could have been far greater had health funds not benefited from cuts to the cost of medical devices like hip and knee replacements and a reduction in the number of payouts.

The last time health fund premiums rose by less than four per cent was two thousand one following the introduction of a thirty percent government tax rebate that dramatically lowered premiums. In that year, premiums did not rise at all. The following year they rose six point nine percent and the average rise has been five point nine per cent since then.

The slowing in premium hikes follows last year’s government health fund reform package which included a one billion dollar cut to hip and knee replacements. And after health funds announced one point four billion dollars in profits last financial year, dragging in four point three percent extra premium revenue while their benefit payouts only rose by three point seven per cent.
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Health Minister Greg Hunt will have to announce the premium rise before mid February and health fund sources said the minister is pressuring them to bring in an average premium rise under four percent.
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Health fund membership began to decline in two thousand fifteen from a peak of forty seven point four percent of the population to forty five point eight percent in September two thousand eighteen.

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