The Health News – 17 January 2014

Overview

  • Tasmania’s auditor general has handed down a damning report into the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital.
  • Peak medical organisations have united to call on the Northern Territory Government to abandon its trial of abolishing speed limits.
  • A Sydney dentist will only be able to practice under supervision, after almost 1,000 patients were potentially exposed to HIV and other viruses, including hepatitis B and C, while being treated at two dental clinics across the city.
  • In North Queensland, James Cook University (JCU) says it is almost ready to commence the trial stage of a study that will measure the health and growth effects of children growing up in tropical areas.
  • A Canberra doctor accused of inappropriately touching a female patient is now under investigation for allegedly forging his application for an Australian medical qualification.

Health News on HPR.

Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment compromised by lack of pre-planning: report – no author listed
The auditor general of Tasmania has released a damaging report on the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital. Andrew Wilkie, the independent Federal Member for Denison, arranged $340 million of Commonwealth funding for the major redevelopment, following the 2010 election.

The auditor general Mike Blake, said in the report that there has been no significant progress since these funds were secured. It was found that not only was there a profound lack of planning, there was also confusion over who was chiefly responsible for the project. The auditor general said, “I wouldn’t call it a debacle, I mean I think we say in the report there’s been some problems and they’re now back on track. I think they could have spent more time at the beginning scoping this project, properly defining who was reponsible and getting the governance arrangements sorted at the beginning.” But Andrew Wilkie believes the delays are unacceptable, saying “Hopefully the auditor’s report today will be a wake-up call to this government and the next government to lift its game because at the end of the day this is all about delivering public health care for Tasmanians.” The project is being re-planned in an endeavour to meet the revised 2016 deadline.

Peak medical bodies unite to condemn Northern Territory trial of unlimited road speeds – by Anthony Stewart
Medical experts across the nation are appealing to the Northern Territory Gov to scrap its upcoming trial of abolishing road speed limits. The trial begins on a 200 km section of the Stuart Highway, running from Alice Springs to Barrow Creek, and will commence on February 1st. Northern Territory representatives of the Aus Medical Association, the College of Surgeons and College for Emergency Medicine are saying the trial is dangerous. NT chairman of the College of Physicians, Dr Christine Connors, says the state government is ignoring all evidence on the dangers of speeding, saying “It is just a disaster that is waiting to happen. The problem is the disaster is going to be more families of the Territory losing family members. If they have decided deliberately to allow open speeds, against all of the evidence and against all of the trends internationally, they would have to take responsibility for deaths. Transport Minister Peter Styles said there had been no deaths recently attributed to speed on the section of the Stuart Highway chosen for the trial. But chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, was adamant that the trial will cause harm, saying “This Government will have blood on its hands. You are going to invite every hoon in Australia to come up there and test their cars on this road.”

Sydney dentist forced to practice under supervision after almost 1,000 patients put at risk of infectious diseases – no author listed
In Sydney, a local dentist has been restricted to practicing only under supervision, after nearly 1000 patients were exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B and C and other viruses while being treated at 2 dental clinics in the city. An investigation was launched into Dr Nuha Kamil, who runs clinics in the CBD and North Sydney, after patients complained to the dental board. The investigation found problems with infection control and sterilisation of instruments. The South-Eastern Local Health District sent letters to 980 past and present patients of the clinics this month, warning them of exposure to bloodborne viruses while attending Dr Kamil’s clinics in the past decade. Dr Vicky Sheppeard of New South Wales Health claims the investigation is just a precaution, and said “We’re not aware that anyone has been exposed to that infection.” The dental board will determine the course of action to be taken against the dentist.

Uni to size up tropical living’s impact on kids’ growth – no author listed
In North Queensland, James Cook University (JCU) says it is almost ready to commence the trial stage of a study that will measure the health and growth effects of children growing up in tropical areas. The study will check in regularly with patients born at Cairns and Townsville hospitals from birth for the next 30 years, and potentially beyond. Professor Linda Shields says the project requires stronger funding to secure its long-term viability. She said “We really need to be able to employ several people and because we anticipate that the project will go for at least 30 years, we are going to be applying for funding for a long time to come, because most research grants, the longest you can ever get is usually about three years.” However enough funds have been raised to run the trial stage of the study.

Canberra doctor allegedly forged application to work in Australia – by Ewen Gilbert
And to the Australian Capital Territory; a General Practitioner working in Canberra, who has been accused of fondling a female patient, is now under investigation for forging his application for an Australian medical qualification. Ammar Dhaimat was removed from duties at the Belconnen Medical Centre in 2013 after he was charged with inappropriately touching a patient and for possession of steroids. He has pleaded not guilty to the indecency charge and will face trial later this year. He will also front the ACT Magistrates Court over the possession of steroids. He had been on bail since charged with indecency late last year, but prosecutors have now told the ACT Supreme Court they would prefer to take him into custody, after it was revealed that Dhaimat is also under investigation by the Aus Fed Pol fraud unit, the Aus Med Council, the Dept of Immigration and the Federal Court for forging official documents. During raids of his house, police found numerous falsified records and documents, including numerous forged Justice of the Peace stamps. The case is expected to return to court next week.

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