The Health News – 15 January 2014

Overview

  • Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says the recent drop in waiting times at Townsville Hospital are due to direct action from the hospital.
  • The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Health Service has said that incorrect media reports have been the chief cause of delays in the construction of a new mental health facility.
  • Australian scientists have discovered a link between Alzheimer’s disease and the blood disorder anaemia.
  • The Australian Medical Association has appealed to the Queensland Government to scrap a proposed trial for pharmacists to administer flu shots.

Health news on HPR.

Springborg says no outsourcing in shorter elective surgery wait times – no author listed
QLD Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says the recent drop in waiting times at Townsville Hospital are due to direct action from the hospital. Recent data shows the number of elective surgery patients waiting over 12 months fell to just 18 patients last month, compared to 337 in December 2012. Springborg said the improvement has not come from outsourcing. He said

“I wish I could say it was some complicated system imported from somewhere in the world, it isn’t. It’s about liberating local capacity and capability and innovation and system change at a local [level].” He explained that doctors and nurses at the facility now have the authority to make changes to practices and procedures they regard as wasteful or inefficient, and that this autonomy has and will lead to notable reductions in patient waiting times.

Ammo dump claims delay new mental health unit – no author listed
The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital Health Service has said that incorrect media reports have been the chief cause of delays in the construction of a new mental health facility.

Hutchinson Builders has been contracted to build the new 20-bed unit in Cairns, which will cater to patients transitioning from hospital care back into the community.

Health service chairman Bob Norman says construction was due to commence late last year, but now may be delayed until after the summer wet season. He said, “Regrettably somebody reported that the site may have been a World War II ammunition dump site and potentially there might have been some unexploded ordnance on the site. We had to have that checked out very thoroughly and that has happened.” But the search came to no avail, as no ammunition remnants of any kind were found.

Anaemia linked to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers hope finding will improve lives of sufferers – by Simon Lauder
Australian scientists have found a connection between Alzheimer’s disease anaemia.

Dr Noel Faux and his team at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne checked the blood iron level of 1100 volunteers in the region.

They found that having Alzheimer’s disease lowered blood haemoglobin levels and was a significant risk factor for developing an untreatable strain of anaemia.

Dr Faux said “It’s a little left field, so to speak, because when people think of Alzheimer’s and dementia they think of the head, they think of the brain. Recently, research has been moving into the blood, and a lot of that research is more around finding a marker that allows us to identify people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.” However, Dr Faux points out that doctors do not fully understand what is causing the anaemia.

“We don’t understand exactly what that relationship is, outside that there is a relationship. Our hypothesis is that the process of Alzheimer’s manifesting within the red blood cells that will actually lead to the anaemia that we see.”

Australian Medical Association urges Queensland Government to scrap chemist flu shot trial
The Australian Medical Association has appealed to the Queensland Government to scrap a proposed trial for pharmacists to administer flu shots. The AMA has called the idea irresponsible, particularly because pharmacists lack the training and facilities to perform vaccinations.

AMA president Steve Hambleton says he has written to QLD’s chief health officer to warn him of the dangers. He said “Pharmacists haven’t been trained to diagnose things like complications with vaccines. They haven’t been trained in giving vaccinations and yet the Pharmacy Board has deemed it’s within scope. It seems like the Queensland Government is prepared to run a trial prior to any training being set up and we’re very concerned.”

The trial was due to begin this flu season, but Hambleton hopes it will be repealed beforehand.

He said “What problem are we trying to solve here? If it’s flu vaccine it’s part of the national immunisation program – it’s actually free at the point of delivery at the GP surgery. Perhaps we should be all working together as part of the primary healthcare team rather than trying to fragment care we’re offering to our patients.”

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia says the AMA’s comments are pessimistic, and that the scheme has the potential to significantly boost immunisation figures.

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