The Health News – 17 April 2014

Overview

  • WA’s Health Department has refused to release info regarding an internal investigation into staff who accepted gifts and trips from drug companies.
  • In SA, there are worries some vulnerable women and young people will stop seeking help from health services after a disruption in services in the state.
  • The Health Minister Peter Dutton has compared the health system to an outdated Holden Kingswood, saying Australia is relying on a 1980s Medicare model.

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WA Health Department refuses to release results of investigation into drug company gifts for staff – By Alisha O’Flaherty
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-16/health-minister-refuses-to-release-review-into-gifts-from-drug-/5396020

WA’s Health Department has refused to release info regarding an  internal investigation into staff who accepted gifts and trips from drug companies.

The Health Minister said the report found no evidence of deliberate harm, but the Opposition said if that was true, there was no reason not to make it public.

Nearly two years ago the auditor-general’s report prompted the department to launch its own internal review.

Health Minister Kim Hames justified the lengthy time taken to complete the report, and said “Yes, it’s taken a long time because they’ve followed up a lot of individual cases. You remember we’ve got 45,000 people working within the health system.”

The review assessed 260 employees who had received a gift or travel benefits between June 2010 and November 2012, and found 23 doctors had not correctly declared them.

The Health Department’s acting director-general, Bryant Stokes, will soon review those cases individually. But the department has restated there is no evidence of deliberate harmful action. Kim Hames said of the issue “We’ve now had a public sector commissioner inquiry, an AG (auditor-general) inquiry and now a full detailed internal inquiry, and none of those have found anybody has done anything wrong.”

Opposition’s health spokeswoman Rita Saffioti said if that was the case, then the department should release the report publicly.

“The issue is, what are they hiding? Why don’t they just release the report so that everyone can move on. This is an issue that has been going on for years, there are some serious questions that have been put.” But Kim Hames said of the decision “I think it contains a lot of details about individual doctors and their jobs, and where they went and what they did. I think that’s fairly private information.”

The health  department says the report will be referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission, which will assess the findings of the investigation.

Women and youth health centres to close in Adelaide, jobs to go – By Angelique Johnson
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-16/women-and-youth-health-centres-to-close/5393380

In SA, there are worries some vulnerable women and young people will stop seeking help from health services after a disruption in services in the state.

Two youth centres in the northern and southern regions of Adelaide and a North Adelaide women’s facility will close and 42 jobs will be cut.

The spokesperson fof the Women’s Service Network says the centre in Pennington Terrace in North Adelaide has been a haven for the vulnerable, and that hundreds of women seek advice to deal with domestic violence, mental and sexual health issues.

The network’s Terese Edwards says “much effort has gone into making women feel welcomed. As soon as you walk through the door you can tell that it’s a women-for-women service. There’s a lot of effort that’s gone into making it a comfortable place [and] it’s very easy to get here by public transport.”

But the walk-in service is slated to be discontinued as part of restructuring to save the troubled SA health department $3 million annually.

Health Minister Jack Snelling defended the changes and said

“The Pennington Terrace facility is a very old building, it doesn’t have disability access so there are a number of issues with it that really make it unsustainable.”

Jenny Richter of SA Health says support will still be online, and said

“We will go and find the youth that need these services, we will go to the emergency departments to see what youth are there and to provide support to them.”

Dutton: need to end ‘archaic practices’ in public hospitals – by Alexandra Kirk
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2014/s3986734.htm

The Health Minister Peter Dutton has compared the health system to an outdated Holden Kingswood, saying Australia is relying on a 1980s Medicare model.

He says “archaic” practices are causing long public hospital waiting lists and wants the system to operate more like the private sector.

He went on to say “We have one of the best-trained workforces in the world; we have doctors and nurses who are incredibly capable and well-trained, but when you talk to the doctors and nurses, the same doctors working in a private setting are doing twice the rate of work as they might be doing in a public setting.

I think, yes, there’s an element of training and research to it, but there is also an element of workplace relations to it, there’s an element of culture. I know myself, as many people do, the lessons that we learnt when the Commonwealth was running repatriation hospitals. And we turned them over to the private sector, and we’ve now abolished waiting lists. We’ve now got a much better arrangement for veterans who are being serviced in those hospitals. We’ve abolished all the archaic practices.

So I think it is time for a debate about some of the management practices and the way in which we operate under a system that really belongs in the 50s or 60s, and we have a frank discussion about what is a limited amount of money to spend. We want to get the maximum outcome for patients out of that system, and I think doctors and nurses, frankly, share the same frustration, and if we can unleash that workforce capacity, I think we will deliver much better health outcomes into the future.”

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