The Health News – 06 July 2015

Overview:

• There is no “silver bullet” to get rid of the drug ice from Australia, Ken Lay the head of the Prime Minister’s National Ice Taskforce has warned the public that it might not be possible.

• Five hikers, all blind or partially-sighted, crossed a mountain range in eastern France last week with the help of a GPS system that developers hope can help millions of people with vision problems.

• AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said that the ongoing indexation freeze of Medicare patient rebates is placing further pressure on the viability of many medical practices, especially general practices, and forcing patients to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care.

Health news on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 6th July 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-03/no-silver-bullet-to-fix-ice-scource-drug-taskforce-warns/6594184

There is no “silver bullet” to get rid of the drug ice from Australia, the head of the Prime Minister’s National Ice Taskforce has warned.

The taskforce finished its eight-week consultation period on Friday having received more than 1,300 submissions, with the majority coming from individuals such as drug users or their family members.
It found the number of people treated for ice addiction more than doubled from 130,000 in 2010 to 290,000 in 2013.
Ken Lay, the former Victorian police chief commissioner who is the taskforce’s leader, said many people in the public wanted a simple fix to the problem, but he warned that might not be possible.
“What I’ve seen and heard in the past eight weeks is there is no silver bullet,” he said.
“This is a complex problem, there’s not just one solution, there’s many solutions.”
Mr Lay said many concerned family members of ice users highlighted the lack of detox beds for addicts who wanted to get off the drug.

To mark the closure of the consultation period, taskforce members visited the Turning Point telephone counselling service in Fitzroy, in inner Melbourne.
The service takes at least 300 calls a day, and calls for ice-related problems are now outnumbering those for alcohol-related problems.
Turning Point’s chief executive Anthony Denham said most of those calls were from concerned family members and friends.

Mr Lay said education will be an important part of the taskforce’s report to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The taskforce will make an interim report to Mr Abbott in the coming weeks and a national ice strategy is expected to be developed by the end of the year.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-02/blind-french-hikers-cross-mountains-with-special-gps/6590610

Five hikers, all blind or partially-sighted, crossed a mountain range in eastern France last week with the help of a GPS system that developers hope can help millions of people with vision problems.

Armed only with their white canes and the experimental smartphone app — unaccompanied by sighted guides — the group trekked 80 kilometres in six days through fields and forests … near the German border.
Worn in a small pouch over the stomach, the Navi’Rando — named for “randonner”, the French word for hiking — warned of bends in the path and turning points at regular intervals.
Developed by a team at Strasbourg University in north-east France, it is part of a growing trend tapping the power of technology to improve life for the visually impaired.
Volunteers from the French Hiking Federation programmed a precise itinerary for the group beforehand, taking care to note any obstacles on the path.

https://ama.com.au/media/ongoing-medicare-rebate-freeze-sends-shiver-through-patients-and-medical-practices

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said … that the ongoing indexation freeze of Medicare patient rebates is placing further pressure on the viability of many medical practices, especially general practices, and forcing patients to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care.

[Last week was] the third anniversary of the Medicare rebate freeze. There has been no increase to Medicare patient rebates for consultations and operations since 2012. GP services were last indexed on 1 July 2014.
While the Medicare rebate indexation remains at zero, the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) is at 1.3 per cent, the Wage Price Index (WPI) is at 2.3 per cent, and the ABS reports an increase in Hospital and Medical Costs of 6.5 per cent.
“The rebate indexation freeze is a co-payment by stealth, and it is currently planned to continue until 1 July 2018,” Professor Owler said.
“The freeze is delivering savings of $1.3 billion over four years to the Government.
“This funding shortfall has to be met by patients and practices.
“While the rebates have remained unchanged, the costs of providing quality medical services continue to rise.
“Practice costs such as wages for practice staff, rent, electricity, technology, and insurance are increasing every year.
“Medical practices cannot absorb these increasing costs for four years in a row and remain viable.” [he said]

The AMA will continue lobbying the Government to lift the Medicare rebate freeze as early as possible.
 
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