The Health News – 17 February 2016

Overview:
•The majority of parents who took their children to hospital emergency departments for less-urgent medical situations did not contact their GP first despite appointments being available, a new survey conducted by the University of Melbourne.• The majority of parents who took their children to hospital emergency departments for less-urgent medical situations did not contact their GP first despite appointments being available, a new survey conducted by the University of Melbourne.

• The administrators of a new Federal Government health program are touring regional Western Australia to collect feedback. The aim is to streamline the delivery of services by giving the not-for-profit ‘WA Primary Health Alliance’ responsibility for allocating funding across regional WA.

• The national regulator responsible for monitoring doctors has failed to do its job, Victoria’s Health Minister has said in the wake of the deaths of babies at Bacchus Marsh Hospital.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 17th February 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-16/parents-sending-children-to-emergency-departments-over-gps/7174094

The majority of parents who took their children to hospital emergency departments for less-urgent medical situations did not contact their GP first despite appointments being available, a new survey has found.

The research conducted by the University of Melbourne aimed at finding out the reasons behind the high rates of presentations to emergency departments (EDs) at Victorian hospitals.

Previous research has shown children aged up to four years make up the largest number of visits.

Lead researcher Professor Gary Freed said most parents surveyed had not tried to see their local doctor first.

“Fewer than half the parents who took their children to the ED for these lower urgency conditions had tried to call their GP for advice or tried to make an appointment,” he said.

“Of those who did contact their GP or went to see their GP, more than two-thirds of those were actually sent to the ED for these lower urgency conditions.

“We think that some parents are probably going directly to the ED because they didn’t think they could get in to see the GP.”

But Professor Freed said further research into GP availability revealed there were same-day appointments available in 75 per cent of all practices and most bulk-billed practices.

All parents surveyed were with a child who had been later assessed by hospital clinicians as being of low urgency and could have been addressed by a family doctor, Professor Freed said.

“It raises some really significant issues about why parents are choosing the ED over their GP, and then the more difficult question to try and address is why GPs are sending so many kids with these lower urgency conditions to the ED, when in fact most of those could be handled within the GP practices themselves,” he said.

He said one reason could be that GPs may feel less comfortable caring for children, given the rise of adult chronic diseases and an ageing population.

A review into how GPs were trained and supported to provide health care to children might also be needed, he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-16/regional-wa-canvassed-over-health-funding-needs/7173248

The administrators of a new Federal Government health program are touring regional Western Australia to collect feedback.

Six months ago, the Commonwealth replaced Medicare Local services with a series of Public Health Networks.

The aim is to streamline the delivery of services by giving the not-for-profit ‘WA Primary Health Alliance’ responsibility for allocating funding across regional WA.

General manager for Country WA, Linda Richardson, is travelling to regional centres to discuss the transition.

She said the aim was to get feedback on funding priorities ahead of the next financial year.

She said it was not about cutting funding but ensuring money was being spent in the best possible way.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-16/doctors-regulator-not-focusing-on-patient-interest-minister-says/7171200

The national regulator responsible for monitoring doctors has failed to do its job, Victoria’s Health Minister has said in the wake of the deaths of babies at Bacchus Marsh Hospital.

Jill Hennessy’s call comes after a new investigation of stillborn deaths at the hospital found 18 babies died at the facility between 2003 and 2014.

An ABC investigation found three of the hospital’s doctors were the subject of notifications to the medical regulator, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Ms Hennessy said the regulator had not done its job, and must focus more on the interests of patients.

She said an investigation looking back at baby deaths at the hospital from 2001 was ongoing, but there had been widespread failures in the system.

“What we’ve learnt through the 2013 and 2014 investigation was that there was a series of cascading failures,” Ms Hennessy said.

“There was a failure at the regulator level, there was a failure at the board level, there was a failure at the organisational level and there was certainly a failure of the department to pick up some of the early warning signs.”

Ms Hennessy said when a complaint was made against a doctor, the notification process did not necessarily follow to a new hospital if the doctor moved workplace.

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