The Health News – 05 February 2014

Overview

  • A report by the Australian Humans Rights Commission, to be released shortly, finds that discrimination against the disabled is rife within our justice system.
  • The NSW southern highlands council of Wingecarribee has stopped all childhood vaccinations for February due to the state government’s withdrawal of indemnity insurance.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration has said that last year at least 43 children under the age of 5 were given a flu vaccine banned for young children because it can cause fever, vomiting and convulsions.
  • In WA, the Country Health Service will call for new tenders for the Esperance interim healthcare facility, after negotiations with a potential partner crumbled.

Health News on HPR.

People with a disability unequal before the law, HRC report says – by Nance Haxton
A report by the Australian Humans Rights Commission, to be released shortly, finds that discrimination against the disabled is rife within our justice system. It contains recommendations that all states adopt strategies to make sure disabled people are treated justly in the court system. One of the cases detailed in the report is that of Melissa Avery, a woman with a severe intellectual disability, who was convicted of stealing low-value from shops several times because the court system would not take her disability into account. Her mother, Collein, says that nothing was fair about the treatment of her daughter was fair. She said “She has absolutely no understanding of the charges she’s being faced with. She couldn’t defend herself.” Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes doesn’t believe disabled people are receiving fair treatment in the courts. He said “We heard from a woman called Maria who has cerebral palsy and little speech, she wanted to tell police about a sexual assault but there was no communications support worker to help with the statement. The police relied on Maria’s parents to provide communication support. Maria was, of course, uncomfortable giving personal details of the assault to police in front of her parents. So her evidence was incomplete, and this caused problems for the investigation and during the court process.” Mr Innes says these cases are far from isolated and needed to be addressed.

Council closes childhood immunisation program – by Nick McLaren
The NSW southern highlands council of Wingecarribee has stopped all childhood vaccinations for February due to the state government’s withdrawal of indemnity insurance. The government’s provision of insurance to more than 20 councils ended in January. Most councils have now organised their own coverage, but the Wingecaribbee Council say they can’t continue supporting the service. Mayor Juliet Arkwright said “Our staff have looked into trying to get some form of cover ourselves but it doesn’t seem practicable. So we simply cannot afford to run these clinics without having the nursing staff indemnified.” NSW Health’s director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicki Shepherd, said “The local public health unit has of course been in touch with them again today and reassured them that the funding is still in place and that’s very important. The NSW Government is still funding councils if they are able to provide this service for their local community. Wingecarribee Council will decide later this month whether to arrange insurance so that they can offer immunisations in March, or to stop the service indefinitely.

Fluvax given to dozens of young children despite ban – no author listed
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has said that last year at least 43 children under the age of 5 were given a flu vaccine banned for young children because it can cause fever, vomiting and convulsions. The TGA banned the drug for young children in 2010 after many reports of febrile convulsions. It says it will print additional warnings on Fluvax packaging to remind doctors not to administer the drug to children under 5. President of the AMA Steve Hambleton said “We know that some of those vaccines are deliberately given by people who wish to give it because there’s no other vaccine available at the time. There’s no doubt that some of those vaccines were inadvertently given.” Professor of Infectious Diseases at ANU Peter Collignon says it could affect public perception of immunisation programs. He said “I don’t think it’s acceptable, and that’s only 43 reported cases. There’s probably more that went unreported. The real reason is we know with Fluvax is that there are two or three times the risk that young children will have very high fevers and that can result in febrile seizures and that can result in unfortunately people having permanent neurological damage.”

Fresh tenders to be called for health centre – no author listed

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-04/fresh-tenders-to-be-called-for-health-centre/5237806

In WA, the Country Health Service will call for new tenders for the Esperance interim healthcare facility, after negotiations with a potential partner crumbled. The facility, which hosts 13 clinical spaces, has been empty for 6 months, angering local residents that are unable to access GP services. Goldfields’ regional director Geraldine Ennis says she wants to provide proper health services to the local area and increase the number of doctors. She said of the failed negotiations, “I thought we had an interested party but … the negotiations faltered and although we went back to them we believe the best way forward is to go out again for tender with a simplified lease to look at somebody who would like to run it.”