The Health News – 10 March 2014

Overview

  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the Federal Government will maintain its promise to make eligibility requirements for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
  • In NSW, a new trial will see paramedics take patients who call ambulances for trivial matters like toothaches to their local GP rather than a hospital.
  • For patients of kidney failure, being rendered motionless for hours at a time by dialysis treatment is an unpleasant experience. But details of a new treatment device, currently on trial in the United States, were released at a health conference in Melbourne last week, the device is being described as an “artificial kidney belt.”

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott plays down reports of cuts to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card – no author listed
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the Federal Government will maintain its promise to make eligibility requirements for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card more stringent, after a report by the Commission of Audit called for eligibility to undergo further scrutiny. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in response to the report, “We made an absolutely crystal clear commitment before the election to index the eligibility thresholds [for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card] and we will keep our commitments. We will repair the budget … but we will do it in ways which are absolutely consistent with the commitments we took to the people before the election.” The card is currently available to anyone over 65 not receiving a pension, and entitles holders to discounted prescription medications, provided their income does not exceed $50k per year. The opposition has called for public release of the Commission’s 900 page report, and leader of the opposition Bill Shorten said of the LNP’s failure to release the report so far, “It is weak of Tony Abbott to have 900 pages of nasty surprises and not tell people until they’ve voted in Tasmania, South Australia, and significantly the West Australian Senate election. Self-funded retirees and older Australians deserve better from Tony Abbott. He should at least have the courage to tell them the truth.” In response the prime minister said the government are thoroughly analysing the report, and said “It will be released, but it will be released at the right time, not the wrong time. My hope is that the people of Tasmania and South Australia will elect new governments that are focused on creating the jobs and building the prosperity that these states so desperately need.”

Paramedics given power to send patients to GPs in NSW crackdown trial – no author listed
In NSW, a new trial will see paramedics take patients who call ambulances for trivial matters like tooth aches to their local GP rather than a hospital. The trial has resulted from recommendations in an Auditor-General’s recent report on the state of emergency health services. Deputy Commissioner of the state’s ambulance service Mike Willis hopes it will result in less time and services wasted on non-serious ailments. He said “Sadly sometimes people call paramedics to their home for trivial things such as sore teeth, or in fact they’ve run out of their medication. That’s not what paramedics are for, that’s what taxis are for. This trial is designed to take those patients who are not life threatening and have low acuity illnesses direct to their GP where they can be assessed.” He says patient’s safety will not be put at risk, and continued “If there’s any doubt or any concern the paramedic will revert back and just take the patient to the emergency department.”

Artifical kidney belt may be dialysis game changer – by Samantha Donovan
For patients of kidney failure, being rendered motionless for hours at a time by dialysis treatment is an unpleasant experience. But details of a new treatment device, currently on trial in the United States, were released at a health conference in Melbourne last week. The device is being described as an “artificial kidney belt” and allows patients to be mobile whilst their blood is cleansed of toxins.
The medical director of Kidney Health Australia Tim Mathew said of the device “It looks like a number of little boxes and connections, a lot of combinations of pumps and pipes and filters, quite complex. But then of course they wrap it up under a cover so from the outside it just looks like a, sort of an ordinary box about 12 inches by four inches, something of that sort.

The vision is that one would wear this ideally 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and would not have then to go and sit on a chair in an ordinary dialysis unit every second day for five hours; and that yes, you’d get on with life. You’d be able to drive and move and work. The current devices strap around the waist and are small enough and light enough to let you get on and do things. I think it would actually change the name of the game in dialysis and it would, I would think depending on how it was all costed, it would probably save money.”